The recent public outcry over the singing of the struggle song “Kill the Boer” by ANC Youth League president Julius Malema proves beyond doubt that South Africa is a highly polarised society.
This issue has been further aggravated by the recent killing of AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche, who was found bludgeoned to death at his farm in the North West Province.
Early investigations indicate that a labour dispute between Terre’Blanche and two of his workers over unpaid wages may have led to the right wing leaders slaying.
Some analysts and rightwing commentators have tried to link Malema’s singing of the song to Terre’Blanche slaying, an argument I find a bit farfetched.
Whilst the chanting of the song in today’s South Africa is a bit misplaced, it is inconceivable that any person will be motivated to take up arms and attack farmers based on the singing of the song.
Also, anyone who knows the lyrics will know that at no stage does the song instigate as a call to action the “killing of Boers”. Most of the struggle songs that carry this phrase have a central theme such as conferring a condolence to a departed comrade as in “Hamba Kahle Mkhonto” (Farewell Comrade).
It is without doubt that crime levels in our country are high and farm killings are unacceptable. These have over time been proven to be motivated be criminal intentions. The police need to be empowered to deal with these and provide farmers with the necessary security.
However, banning the singing of a struggle song, as has been mooted, contributes to further polarise our nation.
You cannot ban a part of South African history in the guise of promoting racial reconciliation. This in my view further fuels racial tensions and makes it difficult for people to come together and agree on what is an agreed common heritage.
The real issue here should be the violence that South Africans employ to resolve their differences. We are truly a violent nation and the sooner we admit to this the sooner will we find healing. Not long ago we attacked and killed foreigners in squatter camps because they were “stealing our jobs”.
Xenophobia is still prevalent in our society with increased attacks on businesses owned by Somalians and other immigrants. We still refer to Africans from across the Limpopo using derogatory terms such as Makwerekwere. This is unacceptable. We need a social agreement where violence will be removed from our national discourse and perhaps this begins with the ending violent rhetoric.