Organisers of the International Choir Competition are the latest to incur the wrath of the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus), after they were told to condemn the singing of struggle song “Thina Sizwe”.
The song is certainly relevant, in light of the current conversations about land expropriation without compensation, but the jury is out on whether it is appropriate. Leader of the FF Plus, Piet Groenewald thinks it is not.
The song became a signature of President Jacob Zuma at funerals and memorials of fallen struggle heroes and is draped in emotion. His most outstanding performance, perhaps was at the reburial of J.B Marks.
In a letter addressed to Interkultur, hosts of the recent competition, Groenewald said the song contributed to racial polarisation in South Africa – at a time when it was least needed.
“The lyrics of the song, which states among other things that white people stole the land from the black nation, can contribute to racial polarisation regarding the issue of land in South Africa,” said Groenewald.
The FF Plus Leader said there was absolutely no justification for the performance of the song, adding that all it sought to do was divide, at a time when the country needed it least.
“The song is blatantly biased and stereotypes white people,” added Groenewald.
“It is also in contravention of the United Nations (UN) International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1965.
“Furthermore, reports in the media indicate that some of the participants were not comfortable with singing the song and, therefore, refused to sing in the mass choir. Apparently, the translated lyrics of the song were also not made available to the choir members straight away.
“The South African Constitution makes provision for and protects the freedom of speech, but it is unacceptable that white people are being portrayed as the scapegoats through a biased interpretation of a very complex South African history,” added Groenewald.
“Political statements in the same vein have paved the way for the government’s plan to expropriate land without compensation as it has brought about a climate where white people are blamed for supposedly causing all the problems, including all the ANC’s failures.
“Such statements about land have already resulted in illegal land occupations, an increase in farm attacks and subtle threats made towards landowners who refuse to give up their land. When a mass choir sings something like Thina Sizwe at an international competition, it only adds to the racial tension in South Africa.”