Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
The African National Congress has defended the singing of an apartheid-era song with the words “Kill the Farmer, Kill the Boer”, saying it is no incitement to violence but a way of ensuring a history of oppression is not forgotten.
That does little to assuage the concerns of the white minority, however, in a country branded the “Rainbow Nation” after the relatively peaceful end to apartheid 16 years ago and the government’s message of “unity in diversity”.
The singing of the song by the ANC’s firebrand youth leader Julius Malema recently has strained race relations. Afrikaner farmers feel particular offence, pointing out that 3,000 white farmers have been killed since the first democratic elections in 1994.
A regional high court ruled last week that the song amounted to hate speech.
The concerns of minorities were further fuelled by fact that students at two of South Africa’s top universities enthusiastically joined in singing the song with Malema. ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said he had sung the song at rugby matches.
Eighteen-year-old Mokgadi ‘Caster’ Semenya is being celebrated as a national hero in South Africa after winning the 800 metres at the World Athletics Championships, but the decision by international athletics officials to order a gender verification test has stirred deep anger – and brought accusations of prejudice against the country and the continent.
Many in South Africa feel a victory by their talented young athlete is being tarnished by bad losers and a world all too ready to mock. Sensitivities to prejudice are never far from the surface in the country where apartheid white minority rule ended just 15 years ago.