Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blood letting in the "Rainbow Nation"

Eugene Terreblance, South Africa's vile neo-fascist and white supremacist made famous by his fringe political activity and theatrical antics as the leader of the separatist AWB (Afrikaner Resistance League), was murdered on his farm last week. While he won't be missed by any stretch of the imagination, his murder seems to have been racially motivated and it jolted South Africa into acknowledging the growing trend of race based violence against white farmers. Since this conflict of whites being victimized by blacks doesn't play to the traditional notion of victim and perpetrator in the liberal paradigm, this awful and tragic trend hasn't been getting the attention it merits. Despite the legacy of institutional segregation that benefited South Africa's native white minority during the second half of the 20th century, some of the challenges for South African society moving forwarding include avoiding the Zimbabwe effect of deliberately destroying civic institutions, eroding democratic standards, ethnically cleansing whites; while also continuing to foster a civil-society that values all racial and ethnic groups, but realizes how precarious the situation can be for the key minorities. Post-colonial Africa seems to have it out for minority groups. One need look no farther than Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria to name a few places. Since South Africa transitioned into majority rule in 1994, over 3,000 white farmers have been murdered by blacks. There are other internal crime statistics that are alarming, and it is no secret that South Africa has a plethora of issues it needs to tend to to continue to break the norm and survive as a non-basket case African nation, yet given the extreme sensibilities, the economic repercussions, and the tragic cycle of violence that has claimed so many other African societies, Jacob Zuma and the ANC need to step up and lock horns with this problem.

Some of the best analysis and  insight on the matter can be found here at an excellent blog called Cauthen's Commentary. (Full disclosure, the werewolf was a student of Cauthen's during his undergraduate years at Emory University) Here is a great excerpt offering in-depth analysis of the issue and how music has played a role in the ethnic violence.
"The death of Eugene Terreblanche has trained the world’s attention on the state of race relations in the so-called “Rainbow Nation” of South Africa as well as on a recent ruling of that country’s high court in Johannesburg. Terreblanche – founder of the neo-fascist and khaki-clad paramilitary organization, the Afrikaner Resistance League (known by its Afrikaans acronym, the AWB) – was until recently perhaps South Africa’s most vociferous and violent white separatist who agitated for a racially-exclusive homeland for the Afrikaner ethnic minority. Yet, the news reports of the past few days have focused less on his notorious career and more on his being the latest statistic; indeed, according to the BBC, more than three thousand white farmers have been killed since the inauguration of the new, multiracial South Africa in 1994. Although Terreblanche’s murder does not seem to be politically motivated, but, rather the action of disgruntled farm workers who claim that he cheated them, some of his cohorts in the AWB insist that his demise was the inevitable result of an anti-apartheid anthem and its repetitive lyric of “shoot the Boer.” The historic and controversial ditty had been recently revived and appropriated as a theme song of sorts by the fiery president of the ANC Youth League Julius Malema.  And, after Malema belted out the song at a political rally last month a high court judge, who is white, ruled that its lyrics were unconstitutional as they incited violence against whites and cautioned Malema against any further performances. The ruling ANC was quite dismayed over the verdict as it regards the song as cultural icon of the liberation struggle and sought to have the judge’s decision reversed in a higher court.
Although to some the claim that Terreblanche’s murder was incited by the song may appear far-fetched, in ethnically-riven societies, the catalytic agency of chauvinistic and provocative music to foment individual and collective acts of violence cannot be underestimated. In the lead-up to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the Hutu Power regime regularly broadcast songs on the radio which dehumanized the Tutses and justified their extermination. In this regard, I am particularly reminded of a song by Hutu pop composer Simon Bikindi with a similarly repetitive lyric – that of “I hate these Hutus.” In it, Bikindi was not slamming the rival Tutsi but those fellow Hutus whom he regarded as not being sufficiently anti-Tutsi. And, of course, large numbers of moderate Hutus were murdered alongside the Tutses by hard-line Hutus. Bikindi was ultimately indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on the grounds that he utilized his music to incite genocide – although he was eventually convicted on a different charge."

1 comment:

  1. I have often been told that AWB were created by the intelligence services, but that is probably just rumour. In any event, E.T. R.I.P. I hope his followers fight back. It's only a matter of time before they come for the rest of them. Self-determination/independence is the answer.