THE death of songbird Thandi Klaasen has exposed the hypocrisy of South Africa’s entertainment sector. Suddenly, radio station DJs have remembered how good she was and have dug into their archives to find her music. Suddenly, they feel “proudly South African”.
This happens each time we lose one of our icons. It seems that until they die, their music is relegated to the back of the queue while our local radio stations play American and European music. Our obsession with music and artists from overseas, at the expense of our own stars, is sickening, to put it mildly.
We need a mindset shift and to begin to celebrate our own while they still live. And we have a lot to celebrate. South Africa is endowed with enough talent – and great music – deserving of regular airplay. Even when the public broadcaster introduced the 90% local music rule on its stations, DJs out of touch with the history and legacy of our rich musical talent still shunned musicians like Klaasen, flooding the airwaves with music by local artists mimicking Americans.
A lot of money that is supposed to be going to our artists leaves the country. Our artists die poor and we are quick to judge when their families don’t have money to bury them. It’s a sickness we need to deal with.