A Tale of Two Perspectives

From the Associated Press, as reported in the New York Times on March 10, 2010:

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s governing party says a leading member didn’t mean it literally when he sang about killing whites.

African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema is often in the news for his fiery rhetoric and flashy lifestyle. Tuesday, South African media reported he led University of Johannesburg students in the song, ”Shoot the boere, they are rapists.” Boere is farmers in Afrikaans, the language of white South African descendants of early Dutch settlers.

Afrikaners and others accuse Malema of inciting violence against whites. Ishmael Mnisi, an ANC spokesman, told The Associated Press Wednesday the song challenges those who do not want to see change in a society still divided by race.

Mnisi says it is not ”a call to kill people.”

A retelling of the same story from a different perspective:

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African leaders rallied around youth leader Julius Malema who has been accused of agitating the descendants of the invading Dutch minority.   Malema led university students in a familiar song that ignited youth during the decades-long struggle for economic empowerment, land ownership and against apartheid.

The song, loosely translated as “Shoot the boere, they are rapists,” dramatized the relationship of the ruthless Afrikaaners in exploiting the bodies, labor, and land of the indigenous peoples.  It is widely held that during the peak of the apartheid regime, whites owned 87 percent of the land while constituting less than 10 percent of the population.

African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema is often in the spotlighted in the Western and white-owned South African media for his fiery rhetoric. Tuesday, several of those organizations reported he led University of Johannesburg students in the song, ”Shoot the boere, they are rapists.” Boere is farmers in Afrikaans, the language of white South African descendants of early Dutch settlers.

Ishmael Mnisi, an ANC spokesman, told The Associated Press Wednesday the song challenges those who do not want to see change in a society still divided by race.  Mnisi was the target of an armed hijacking in 2009.  He survived his harrowing ordeal and reiterated that the priority that the ruling ANC has placed on law enforcement.

Mnisi’s attack was not as widely reported as Malema’s comments.  This fact is not lost on the South African majority.  The issue of “racial violence” in South Africa is as old as the arrival of the first Europeans.  The hew and cry in recent years from persons who continue to hold land unlawfully seized at gun point, belies, for many blacks, an unspoken vested interest.

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