News

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.

News
Image via TONL.

Uganda Has Lost Millions of Internet Users as a Result of Its Controversial Social Media Tax

The infamous tax is effectually driving Ugandans off the internet.

The number of internet users in Uganda has declined significantly since the implementation of the highly-criticized tax on social media, which went into effect in July of last year.

While the government claimed that the tax would assist in raising government revenue and help "maintain the security of the country and extend electricity so that you people can enjoy more of social media, more often, more frequently," said Uganda's Finance Minister Matia Kasaija at the time. President Museveni also suggested that the tax would help "curb gossip" online.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Cover art for Riky Rick's "You and I"

The 14 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Riky Rick, Mr Eazi, Moonchild Sanelly, Burna Boy, Blinky Bill, Niniola and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow OkayAfrica on Spotify and Apple Music to get immediate updates every week and read about some of our selections ahead.

Keep reading... Show less
Literature
Image courtesy of Doubleday.

Oyinkan Braithwaite's 'My Sister the Serial Killer' Is the Lagos-Set Novel Rocking the Crime Thriller Genre

We speak with the Nigerian author about the success of her debut novel, and breaking the boundaries of "African Lit."

"I have always been drawn to dark topics," says Oyinkan Braithwaite, the 30-year-old Nigerian author behind the critical darling of a novel My Sister, the Serial Killer.

Her declaration helps explain the subject and title of her debut novel, which tells the story of Ayoola, a young woman who has developed a not-so-healthy habit of murdering her boyfriends, leaving her older sister, the book's protagonist, Korede to clean up her mess. You may have noticed it's ubiquitous cover—which features a young black woman wearing a headwrap, casually looking on as a knife-wielding hands is reflected in her sunglasses—on your timeline or at your local store. The internationally-released, Nigerian-made novel sits confidently on retail shelves previously reserved for mass-market thrillers.

The dark and humorous, Lagos-set novel is extreme—but not just because of all the murdering that happens. It also examines the extreme nature of the many things that can push people to the edge. For the sisters, it's: intergenerational trauma, abuse, the prevalence of a culture that rewards beauty above all else, as well as having to battle with their own personal shortcomings—just to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.