Cul­ture vul­ture

CityPress - - News -

Should white peo­ple score brownie points and high-fives for em­brac­ing black cul­ture? This is the ques­tion Anita Ronge pro­voked this week when she made head­lines for her as­sumed Kasi Mlungu per­sona. For many, the story of the com­mer­cial house mu­sic dee­jay elicited anger, some­thing Ronge claims not to un­der­stand and brushes off as “neg­a­tiv­ity”.

The 26-year-old says she em­bod­ies all her per­sonas: Anita Ronge, DJ DuchAz, and Kasi Mlungu. She is the Afrikaans woman from Kemp­ton Park on Gaut­eng’s East Rand; the dee­jay who hopes to re­lease an al­bum by the end of the year; and the per­son you will find par­ty­ing in Tem­bisa with friends, eating her favourite town­ship snacks.

In short, she is a brand. But is she also a hus­tler who found a way to break into main­stream me­dia and grow her brand?

Ronge is on the phone from Dur­ban for what should have been a hol­i­day, but turned into work.

“I am gig­ging here this week­end af­ter peo­ple found out I’m around. I can never say no to the hus­tle,” she said.

Ronge was born in New­cas­tle in KwaZulu-Natal. Her fam­ily moved to Kemp­ton Park when she was five years old. A laat lam­metjie, she is the youngest of three sib­lings.

Her fa­ther died when she was 12 and the fam­ily hit hard times. She had to start work­ing when she was 15, do­ing mainly pro­mo­tional work.

It was at Laer­skool Im­pala and Hoërskool Kemp­ton Park where she be­friended black pupils, and where she felt her first back­lash from be­ing white in a black world. The DuchAz per­sona was born when Ronge was taught to dee­jay by friends in Ham­man­skraal, who soon called her Kasi Mlungu.

Asked what she un­der­stood white priv­i­lege to be, Ronge said: “I feel like you get ahead in life be­cause of the colour of your skin.”

Dur­ing a ra­dio in­ter­view this week, Ronge said she did not be­lieve she was racially priv­i­leged.

“I have worked my­self to death to get to where I am. I feel like house mu­sic is my cul­ture and I can­not re­ally de­fine it to a spe­cific cul­ture. I just feel like South Africa should be one, and that we should not be sep­a­rated un­der dif­fer­ent cul­tures.”

Ronge’s in­ter­views and tweets this week re­veal a naiveté that has earned her the wrath of black Twit­ter.

She has been pho­tographed pos­ing se­duc­tively while hold­ing snacks, dressed in tra­di­tional at­tire.

In one pic­ture, she holds umshanelo (a grass broom) and says: “I get re­jected for not be­ing ‘black enough’ and be­ing ‘too black’ to be white ... I’m #KasiMlungu & I’m proud.”

She told City Press: “I feel like peo­ple mis­un­der­stood the whole pho­to­shoot be­cause it was ba­si­cally one of my friends from Tem­bisa who had the idea of try­ing to put in pic­tures who I am and what I mean to Tem­bisa.

“That is the rea­son for the pho­to­shoot: to ex­press what I mean to them [the Tem­bisa com­mu­nity], be­cause I am the Kasi Mlungu of Tem­bisa.”

Asked if she was ro­man­ti­cis­ing poverty, she said: “My Kasi Mlungu name is not my do­ing; it was given to me.”

by Rhodé Mar­shall

And on the sub­ject of whether she knew that black peo­ple lived in town­ships be­cause they were forcibly moved there by the apartheid regime, which had cre­ated these ar­eas, Ronge said: “A lot of peo­ple do have a choice [of whether] to stay there or to move out.

“Any­one can do what­ever they want to in this coun­try, which is the great part of liv­ing in our coun­try. So, why not ex­plore the en­tire South Africa? I feel like we should move past the past of South Africa.”

In re­sponse to many peo­ple hav­ing felt dis­re­spected by her tweet – re­ferred to above – about be­ing re­jected for not be­ing black enough, Ronge said: “In gen­eral, I do not bother my­self with neg­a­tive peo­ple. Apart from the neg­a­tive com­ments I have been get­ting on Twit­ter, I have re­ceived triple as many pos­i­tive mes­sages on a more per­sonal level.

“Re­gard­ing the neg­a­tive stuff that I get from peo­ple on a pub­lic plat­form now, no one in­boxes me and says, ‘What you are do­ing is wrong.’ Which I find strange. Why can’t you in­box me and tell me on a per­sonal level that what I’m do­ing is wrong? That is some­thing I am yet to un­der­stand.” Ronge said she had not writ­ten off be­ing an Afrikaner. “It is an im­por­tant part of my life. It is how I grew up. [I come from a] pre­dom­i­nantly Afrikaans fam­ily and I feel for a per­son who grew up Afrikaans – so­ci­ety dic­tates life to you.

“If you are an Afrikaans girl, you are sup­posed to do this and that, and I want to show peo­ple that you can be what­ever you want to be.

“I am just com­fort­able with my iden­tity and the way I iden­tify my­self with both cul­tures. I do not iden­tify with one more than the other. Our coun­try should be a no-colour coun­try.”

TALK TO US Is it worth not­ing at all that a white woman hangs out ekasi? Aren’t we past this yet as a coun­try?

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Kasi Mlungu ROLLING WITH THE CATCALLS Anita Ronge AKA Kasi Mlungu AKA DJ DuchAz

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