‘Kill the farmer’ oppresses black people
September 14, 2011 § 1 Comment
Originally appeared on News24, 2010-03-30 07:55
The reasons the ANC would want to defend its right to sing, “Kill the boer, kill the farmer” are completely understandable and legitimate. The song is part of a history of a necessary struggle that was eventually won after hundreds of years of oppression.
This oppression was in fact the direct reason the song came into being in the first place. Had there been no apartheid, no brutality against the peoples of colour, the song would never have had a reason to exist. It would have been unnecessary – as unnecessary as Citi Golf would be to Khanyi Mbau.
The system created an unbearable anger; it composed and conducted the song. It was a product of what we abhorred. It could be argued that apartheid should in fact be credited with the creation of the song, and while we’re at it, all the songs of the struggle. With the new dispensation, we became the masters of our fate; in 1994, when Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
Having said that, the song didn’t defeat apartheid. No song brought apartheid to its knees. Yes, songs were a necessary and an extremely important part of the struggle, but it was the peaceful resolution that was entered into through CODESA and other talks before the first truly democratic elections in South Africa in 1994. As a result, it can be argued that there is no need to fight tooth and nail for this song. So what if some judge considers that song Hate Speech? The banning of that song is not going to diminish the ANC in any way. There is no need to fight it.
Since we claim to be a free people, are we truly a free if we continue to sing songs that talk to us as if we are still oppressed? Does that make any sense at all to sing as if we are? I am not talking about the fact that the economy or the land is still in white hands. I am referring to something that no man has a hold over but each man. The one area each man is his own master – the mind. To continue singing this song is to further oppress our people and is completely irresponsible, for it serves to tell them that they are not yet free. You are still in Egypt, not in the Promised Land. This is what the song says to me.
As you might have noticed, dear reader, I am not discussing the merits of the judgment that led to the banning of the song. In case you were not aware, the song was called hate speech, thus banned.
In his inaugural speech in 1994, Nelson Mandela said, “The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us.” This song does not heal, nor does it bridge any chasms that divide us. If anything it widens them. The song simply does not build.
Madiba went on to say, “We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. And then he told us to act as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.” Kill the boer, kill the farmer song divided us; it did not show the values that the founding fathers hoped we would those of nation building.
As Napoleon Bonaparte so eloquently put it, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” By singing the song, Julius Malema did not act as a leader. The song points us to a system, which has been, arguably, abolished. A leader points the people towards hope, not despair, possibility. Not destruction, a bright future. Not a bleak past.
As Steve Biko wrote in his paper, The Definition of Black Consciousness, “We cannot be conscious of ourselves and yet remain in bondage.” This song only serves to tell black people that they remain in bondage. It tells them to be angry at something they have already overcome, because we all know that the song did not literally mean kill the farmer it simply meant death to apartheid. Why sing it now?
The song should not be banned, but it should not be sung either. Why should a free people be in bondage to the past?