A Western Cape hip-hop out­fit’s angry new video has picked up on the sim­mer­ing ten­sions on farms in the Cape, write Blig­naut and Ray­mond Willemse

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In a week that saw Cosatu’s Western Cape sec­re­tary Tony Ehren­re­ich re­spond­ing to farm work­ers’ evic­tions by call­ing for a “war of jus­tice” and threat­en­ing that farms will be “oc­cu­pied on a large scale”, a sound­track to the ten­sions is join­ing the de­bate. It should cre­ate even fur­ther un­hap­pi­ness from farm­ers. This week, AfriFo­rum told City Press it in­tends to take le­gal ac­tion against the song and the video.

Dookoom is a hip-hop out­fit fronted by leg­endary un­der­ground Cape Town rap­per Isaac Mu­tant. Mu­tant was a huge in­flu­ence on Die Ant­wo­ord’s de­vel­op­ment as gang­ster rap­pers from the Western Cape.

Dookoom’snew­songis­con­tro­ver­sial­lyti­tledLar­neyJouP**s. In it, the band rolls a burn­ing tyre across farm land and em­bla­zons their logo on to a hill. Some view­ers will see it as a visual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of burn­ing down farms.

Speak­ing to City Press, Dookoom in­sist they aren’t try­ing to in­cite vi­o­lence but rather pro­voke de­bate.

The song places the band’s pol­i­tics as a re­ac­tion to the Cape’s his­tory of slav­ery, colo­nial­ism and the “dop sys­tem” – when farm work­ers were paid in al­co­hol.

But there will no doubt be a fu­ri­ous re­ac­tion to the track and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing al­bum re­lease next week. Another track on the EP con­tains the lyrics “shoot the boer”, re­flect­ing Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers leader Julius Malema’s ral­ly­ing cry that was deemed by the courts to be hate speech in 2011.

On the Larney track, Dookoom plays on the chil­dren’s church song Fa­ther Abra­ham but twists its lyrics: “Farmer Abra­hams has many farms/ Many farms has farmer Abra­hams/ I work one of them/ And so do you/ So let’s go burn them down.”

It’sthisthathaspro­vokedtheangerofA­griSAandAfri-Fo­rum, whose deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive Ernst Roets told City Press the lobby group “in­tends to re­quest the au­thor to with­draw the song and the video within 24 hours”.

He added: “If this re­quest isn’t ad­hered to, AfriFo­rum will take le­gal ac­tion against the au­thors.

“The song is in vi­o­la­tion of the Pro­mo­tion of Equal­ity and Preven­tion of Un­fair Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act and its state­ments are not pro­tected by the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“Imag­ine for a mo­ment a white Afrikaans per­son pub­lish­ing a song in which black peo­ple are re­peat­edly chanted to be ‘k*****s’ ... Feel free to ar­gue but I am cer­tain there would be a na­tional out­rage.”

But Dookoom says: “There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween ex­press­ing anger and in­cit­ing vi­o­lence. Let’s fo­cus on why peo­ple are angry. Surely treat­ing work­ers worse than an­i­mals is an in­cite- ment to vi­o­lence?”

Ehren­re­ich, mean­while, was un­apolo­getic about his state­ments at a press con­fer­ence in Cape Town ear­lier this week.

“I don’t care in the least what the farm­ers think and say about me. There will al­ways be us against them if they don’t change,” he told City Press’ sis­ter pa­per Rap­port.

He says his in­ten­tion is not to in­cite vi­o­lence. “The racist farm­ers will al­ways say I in­cite vi­o­lence. I don’t care what they think and say. Farm work­ers still live in ter­ri­ble con­di­tions and are be­ing put off the farms.

“In­stead, whatwe­did­waswarn­the­mandthe­gov­ern­ment­thatifthings do not change, there will be a revo­lu­tion. This does not al­ways mean vi­o­lence, but rad­i­cal change.” He says he is speak­ing on be­half of farm work­ers. “They are happy with what I say.” This isn’t en­tirely true – some farm work­ers in De Doorns, out­side Cape Town, say the sec­tor doesn’t need any more vi­o­lence.

De Doorns and other Boland towns ex­ploded in 2012 dur­ing a bruis­ing strike by farm work­ers over wages. Wil­fred Frolick, who has been work­ing on the farm De­nau Bo­erdery for more than 22 years, says the video can be seen as hate speech.

“It is clear in the video that they want to oc­cupy land and chase peo­ple from their farms. What is sad is that young peo­ple are used in the video to do the dirty work. It is a sad day when young peo­ple are ma­nip­u­lated by oth­ers to get their way,” says Frolick.

“Vi­o­lence never has and never will solve prob­lems. Look what hap­pened in Zim­babwe.”

Another man, who pre­ferred not to be named, says though many are still un­happy with their work­ing con­di­tions, no­body wants the trauma of another strike.

“Too many were in­jured and we still have the scars. The video can rub peo­ple up the wrong way and in­cite vi­o­lence, but I don’t think it will flare up here again. Per­haps in other places.”

Ra­pu­lana Seiphemo

Con­nie Fer­gu­son

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