Art­work on mu­sic al­bum un­der fire

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TOBY NGOMANE The Wound,

“WHAT is hap­pen­ing is not new... for over 500 years Europe has been do­ing this.”

These were the thoughts of artist and cul­tural ac­tivist Pro­fes­sor Pi­tika Ntuli in the wake of ac­cu­sa­tions that a US-based South African band had crossed the fine line be­tween ap­pro­pri­a­tion and cul­tural ex­plo­ration with their lat­est al­bum art.

Die Ant­wo­ord, who came onto the South African mu­sic scene in 2008, and main­tained a low but strong pro­file and a steadily grow­ing South African and in­ter­na­tional fan base, re­cently came un­der fire for pos­ing the model on their self­ti­tled al­bum Die Ant­wo­ord in tra­di­tional Xhosa ini­ti­a­tion cloth­ing.

The group has col­lab­o­rated with in­ter­na­tional artists such as Dita von Teese and Jack Black, and their “zef coun­ter­cul­ture” style of mu­sic and their over­all rock-the­boat aes­thetic have se­cured a place on many South Africans’ playlists.

But they have been ac­cused of rock­ing the boat too much be­cause the cover of their al­bum fea­tures Yolandi Visser stand­ing in front of fel­low band mem­ber Ninja, who is dressed in Xhosa male ini­ti­ate at­tire.

Al­though ini­tially re­leased last year, this im­age has re­cently resur­faced on so­cial me­dia, and has been fol­lowed by a bar­rage of anger and hos­til­ity.

Among those en­raged by the mat­ter is mu­si­cian Nt­siki Mazwai, who took to Twit­ter to voice her anger and views on the mat­ter.

“This is not his cul­ture. He is not Xhosa and he has no right to pa­rade around pre­tend­ing that he is,” she wrote.

Mazwai said re­gard­ing the mu­si­cal duo: “We should take them to the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion for ex­ploit­ing our cul­ture.

“He is not a Xhosa man. He has not been to the moun­tain. He does not know what the blan­ket or the mud means.”

This is not the first time pri­vate as­pects of Xhosa cul­ture have been made pub­lic.

Ear­lier this year, a film on the Xhosa ini­ti­a­tion of “go­ing to the moun­tain”, pre­miered at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val in the US.

Ntuli said yes­ter­day: “They are us­ing the tra­di­tion of ini­ti­a­tion to make a profit. The tra­di­tion should not be used in a com­mer­cial way.”

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