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DOOKOOM & The Storm Behind The Rainbow: How Far Has South Africa Progressed As A Democracy? –By Justin Buys

Justin Buys discusses DOOKOOM and the "Larney Jou Poes" storm as an indication of how far South Africa has progressed as a democracy.


Written by Justin Buys

Cape Town’s notoriously subversive gothic hip-hop outfit DOOKOOM recently ignited a wildfire of controversy with the visually potent music video for their racially charged, thunderously dark post-Apartheid protest song "Larney Jou Poes." The Dane Dodd-directed video, which depicts the group's lead vocalist Isaac Mutant (an activist rapper from Mitchell’s Plain who’s collaborated with Die Antwoord and performed with Public Enemy) on a tractor galvanising a troop of disgruntled coloured farm workers, went viral when the right wing Afrikaans fundamentalist group AfriForum decided to lay a lawsuit against the act for inciting violence against farmers. The backlash from the conservative Afrikaans community since the release of the video included racially antagonising remarks by prominent Afrikaner folk musician and Apartheid apologist Steve Hofmeyr.

The tenor of the outcry reminds me of the viral video “Les Poids des Apparences” ("The importance of appearances") from French social experimentalist NorniTube. The video contrasts public reactions to the same man collapsing, first disguised as a homeless man (in which the public ignored him), then as a businessman (in which the public immediately rushed to his aid). To NorniTube, it was easier for the public to empathize with the suffering of a man who wasn't used to suffering. According to this logic, it's easier for the adamant objectors of DOOKOOM's video to feel sympathy for the occasionally victimized white farmers, as opposed to the habitually victimized black and coloured farm workers. The warped reasoning behind their logic: 'yes they’re suffering, but have they ever known anything outside of suffering?'

In Isaac Mutant’s fuming lyrics he didactically describes the current plight of the coloured farm worker in the Western Cape. He points out the irony of how the very racists who now accuse his people of being criminals and thieves came aboard a ship as fugitives and thieves themselves in order to steal the land from its indigenous inhabitants. He expresses a deep rooted frustration with the oppression endured by his forefathers (the Khoi and San indigenous people whom make up a significant of coloured ancestry) to the present day farm enslavement of their descendants.

In the Western Cape, where the average wage of a farm worker (like those portrayed in the DOOKOOM video) is R300 ($27) per week, workers are financially disempowered. And because they get paid in sporadic increments of cash, most of them don’t have bank accounts — this automatically disqualifies them from ever being eligible for a loan. There is no room for personal development because all major decisions have to be co-signed by the (typically Afrikaner) farm owner who thereby has autonomous control of their lives. The "Dop-System," a heinous practice where workers are remunerated in wine instead of money, is still widely used by farm owners in the province’s world renowned wineries. The farm workers are generally not allowed to join trade unions because farm owners don’t want to be exposed for how underpaid their employees are and how poor their living conditions are. The employees get threatened with job loss and eviction if they unionise. The only way for an employee to live on that property till and beyond their retirement is to ensure their offspring continue the tradition of subservience. Because they don't have any land of their own, this leads to a cycle of farm workers remaining loyal and working for farmers regardless of how they're treated.

The Western Cape is arguably the most comfortable place to be a racist in Africa. Black and coloured lives are almost invisible there; concealed in strategically distant corners of the community so their plight won’t pollute the pristine picturesque views from the blissful balconies of tourists and the leisurely class that thrives in its dinner party lifestyle. According to AfriForum those elitists deserve the global community’s pity because although they may live in the lap of luxury, they [the farmers] also live in constant fear of vengeful attacks by the hands of the people whom they’ve exploited and continue to exploit to accrue that luxury. This is the convenience of empathy.

DOOKOOM’s power is purely mythological in a sense. Isaac Mutant has replaced Julius Malema as the Boo Radley of conservative white South Africa. He’s become the new shadowy, villainous scapegoat for all of their problems and the living manifestation of their post-colonial white anxiety. DOOKOOM's "Larney Jou Poes" video has a crucial role to play in South African society — to unveil the socio-economic storm brewing as result of a structural racial imbalance which continues to dictate the day-to-day affairs of the populace. The outcome of this impending lawsuit will be an insightful indication of how far we’ve truly progressed from our sordid past as a nation. It will be a tragic indictment on our democracy if the children of those who were banned from listening to Bob Marley and Lucky Dube are banned from listening to DOOKOOM.

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(From left to right) Stéphane Bak and Marc Zinga in 'The Mercy of the Jungle.' Photo courtesy of TIFF.

Congolese Actor Stéphane Bak on His Intense Experience Shooting 'The Mercy of the Jungle' In Uganda

We catch up with the actor after the film made its North American premiere at TIFF.

When actor Stéphane Bak first got the script for The Mercy of the Jungle (La Miséricorde de la Jungle), he knew there was one person he had to consult: his father. "My dad did school me about this," he says. While Bak was born and raised in France, his parents had emigrated from what was then Zaire in the 1980s—before the events of the movie, and not exactly in the same area, but close enough to be able to pass on firsthand knowledge of the simmering ethnic tensions that underpin the action.

The story takes place in 1998, just after the outbreak of the Second Congo War—which came hot on the heels of the First Congo War. Two Rwandan soldiers find themselves separated from their company and have to make a harrowing trek through the jungle to link back up with their regiment. Bak plays Private Faustin, the young recruit hunting Hutu rebels to avenge his murdered family, a foil to Marc Zinga's seasoned Sergeant Xavier. As a Congolese militia swarms the area, and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell enemies from friends, the two are forced off the road and into the thick vegetation.

Their journey is physically difficult, but the jungle also nurtures them, providing food, water, and shelter. "The title is very explicit in a way," says Bak. It is the human beings they encounter, from rival soldiers and militiamen to the hostile security forces guarding illegal gold mining operations, who bring sudden danger and violence. The challenges are conveyed as much through the actors' physicality as through the minimal dialogue. As for the strain on his face, Bak says it was all real. "To be honest, it was very difficult," he says of the shoot, which took him 25 days. "I had to learn my accent in two weeks." Prior to commencing, there was training with the Ugandan army for realism. Due to the ongoing conflicts in the DRC, the movie itself was shot in Uganda.

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Brazil Has Made Yoruba an Official Language

The language will also be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum in the country, says the Minister of Culture.

Yoruba history and culture has an undeniably strong presence in Brazilian society, due of course, to the Transatlantic slave trade which brought millions of enslaved West Africans to the Americas. Despite the inhumanity they faced, many managed to keep their ancestral culture and traditions alive.

Centuries have passed, and Yoruba influences still continue to thrive in various regions of the country, as many Brazilians maintain a strong relationship with the language and religion. Its influence can be seen through the music, food and spiritual practices of various communities. Last month the Ooni of Ife—the spiritual leader of the Yoruba people—visited the country, where he was met by crowds of Black Brazilians who turned up to pay their respects.

This connection will likely remain strong for future generations, as the language has now become an official foreign language in the country.

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Brazil's Minister of Culture, Dr. Sérgio Sá Leitão, has said that the language will now be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum, reports the Nigerian Voice.

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This EP Blends the Afro-Brazilian Rhythms of Bahia With Bass Music

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Brazilian producers Felipe Pomar (of TrapFunk & Alivio) and Telefunksoul come through with a dizzyingly energetic EP in the form of Ré_Con Ba$$.

Telefunksoul, who happens to be one of the main promoters of Bahia Bass music, came up with the concept of exploring the rhythms coming out of Recôncavo of Bahia and showing how they can fit into bass music.

Through the 7-track Ré_Con Ba$$ EP, him and Pomar mold and transform the diverse music of Bahia, fusing its rhythms with afrobeat, future house, deep house and much more.

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