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White South Africans hold placards during a protest against the violent murder of farmers which they term "genocide and oppressive state policies in favour of blacks" in Pretoria on October 10, 2013.

Op-Ed: Laying Bare South Africa's 'White Lie'

There are many persecuted minorities in the world—white South Africans are certainly not one of those.

For years, and particularly in the last five years, there has been a push through the media by white South Africans to present themselves to the international community as a persecuted minority and one whose persecution has been heightening. The narrative that there has been an ongoing "white genocide" taking place in South Africa has been gaining worrying traction with various governments from the West responding to this false and dangerous claim. Frankly speaking, this claim would be hilarious, given its ludicrousness, were it not so devastating for a majority-Black country barely recovering from decades of racial segregation at the hands of an Apartheid regime whose legacy still lives on today in egregious ways.

At a time when Black people around the world, minorities and otherwise, have been leading massive movements against police brutality, systemic racism, human rights violations and corrupt governments, it is vital to dispel dangerous notions of white South Africans being a persecuted minority when the reality is the exact opposite.


The belief that there is a white genocide in South Africa is not new. It stems from the continued and false assertion that white farmers are deliberately being targeted and murdered because they are white. Now, while it is certainly true that there are farm attacks and murders in the country, these are reportedly a tiny fraction of the country's overall homicide rate with Africa Check's senior researcher, Kate Wilkinson, citing in an interview the inaccuracy of the figures. "Until we can be sure what murders are being measured and what definition is being used to estimate the total population size, we can't calculate this figure."

Of course, that has not stopped right wing political parties such as the Freedom Front Plus from arguing during a 2017 parliamentary debate that farm murders are three times the national homicide rate––and all with a straight face. And so it becomes clear that the issue of farm murders, which seldom makes mention of Black farmers (who are just as vulnerable to attacks as white farmers), is far more political than it is accurate. Political analyst, Ryan Cummings, put it this way in a tweet: "South Africa must be the only country in the world where a genocide is ongoing but where the victims still employ their murderers to tend to their gardens, clean their homes & walk their dogs."

However, in an age where fake news and misinformation tends to be shared up to 70 percent more than legitimate information on social media, it is not difficult to understand how the myth of this white genocide can exponentially amass popularity, and with the right financial resources, reach the offices of those in power. In 2018, the Australian government gave serious consideration to fast-tracking humanitarian visas to white South Africans on the basis of "land seizures and violence," both of which were unfounded. Furthermore, former President Donald Trumptweeted a series of posts about the "land seizures and the large scale killing of white farmers" and even announced that his then Secretary of State would keep a "close eye" on South Africa.

READ: There is No 'White Genocide' Happening in South Africa, So Why is the American Right So Obsessed?

What is particularly upsetting, is how in spite of their propaganda, white South Africans have continued to treat Black South Africans with such incredible inhumanity. Many people are aware of these infamous farm murders but how many of them equally know about 16-year-old Matlhomola Mosweu, a Black teenage boy from Coligny, North West, who was murdered by two white farmers, Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte for allegedly stealing a few sunflowers. Sunflowers. The pair caught Mosweu and proceeded to throw him from the back of their moving truck.

What is uncanny about white South Africans claiming persecution, is how they have, over decades, made considerable efforts to separate themselves from the rest of the country and govern themselves as a people under a sovereign state. Relatively new "white-only " settlements such as Eureka are just a continuation of long-established places like Orania, an entire town only open for residence to white South Africans and more specifically Afrikaans-speaking white South Africans.

Unlike the mythical city of Atlantis, this town exists in plain view and the South African government has been lethargic when it comes to addressing how it is a stumbling block in the country's progress towards a non-racial society. Established in 1991, Orania is almost completely self-sufficient with monuments celebrating the prominent architects of Apartheid, the old Apartheid flag and even a separate currency known as the Ora as opposed to the South African Rand. Naturally, and is always the argument, all of this is to "preserve" Afrikaner culture and heritage. Orania feeds into the grand idea of establishing a volkstaat which effectively seeks self-determination among Afrikaans people in a way that is separate from the rest of the country. While this has not been enacted into the law, it is already the de facto reality.

Orania - OkayAfricaA picture taken on April 17, 2013 shows statues of apartheid heroes displayed above the town of Orania. Orania is a South Africa's only "purely" white town founded in the Northern Cape province in 1991 by Afrikaners, for Afrikaners opposed to the post-apartheid "rainbow nation".STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images.

It bears asking then, how can white South Africans, on one hand, position themselves as victims, but on the other hand, insist that white rule remains supreme? The two are admittedly mutually exclusive.

While the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has always claimed to be in favor of a non-racial society that serves all South Africans, of late, it has become undeniably clear that the party panders unabashedly to white interests and as a result, has lost key Black leaders of the likes of Mmusi Maimane and Herman Mashaba. In a recent anti-racism protest that saw violence erupting between members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and parents at Brackenfell High School, a tweet from the DA likened the EFF to "Nazis in brown shirts" on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, where Jews were attacked by SA paramilitary forces throughout Nazi Germany in 1938.

Furthermore, the dynamic that exists between white South Africans and the police, is an important one to consider as it has permitted them to enjoy great freedoms in the country as a result.

In 2016, when the nationwide Fees Must Fall protests denouncing the financial exclusion of poor students erupted, the South African Police Services (SAPS) and private security forces were brought in to maintain "law and order." Black students under attack quickly realised that if white students formed human shields around them, the police would simply not shoot. The police were largely Black officers but their regard was for white students instead. That image remains a difficult one and one that still brings tears to my eyes, as a former student leader, four years later.

The following year, there were protests calling for the resignation of then-president, Jacob Zuma. Again, the interactions between the police and Black people compared to white people, were vastly different. White "protesters" took selfies with police officers and even walked alongside them at times during the march. In stark contrast, at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year, more Black men were killed by the police and members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) than by the coronavirus outbreak itself. Collins Khosa, Sibusiso Amos, Petrus Miggels and Adane Emmanuel were their names.

One would think that the non-threatening relationship that exists between white South Africans and law enforcement would ease their fears of being completely wiped out. The opposite is true. White Afrikaners especially are preparing for a civil war. Some of them even send their children to "survival" bootcamps that teach tactical training, denounce leaders like the late anti-Apartheid veteran Nelson Mandela, introduce the notion that Black people are dangerous and sing Die Stem, the national anthem under Apartheid, all while burning the new South African flag and flying the old one.

South Africa's White Supremacist Training Campswww.youtube.com

With the majority of the land in the possession of white South Africans, ample financial resources and institutionalised racism maintaining their place in positions of power, only concerted political effort can stop them. However, the current African National Congress (ANC)-led government is consumed with looting state coffers and has no seeming interest in addressing the growing and potentially devastating repercussions of racism in this country.

The victimhood alleged by white South Africans is not by accident but design. History shows us that atrocities against white people, real or not, will always be avenged and that is a trump card white South Africans are keeping in their back pocket. It is no longer enough to quote Mandela and struggle leaders of the past. It is not nearly enough to spew rhetoric about a non-racial South Africa when racism is the neighbour from whom one regularly visits to borrow sugar. Racism is still sitting at the dinner table as the star of the show in much the same way it did under Apartheid. Essentially, very little has changed.

This concept of a rainbow nation filled with "colour blindness" and all manner of unicorns is a delusion and in the words of one great lyricist, Cardi B, "This ain't Disney."

Interview

Fireboy DML On Embracing His Inner 'Playboy,' Stepping Outside & Learning to Let Go

On Playboy, Fireboy moves further away from his previous records and embraces the mainstream afrobeats sound hinted in recent hits like "Peru" and "Bandana." We sit down with the Nigerian star to talk about his new album.

“I would like to discuss my forthcoming album only, nothing else. That is where my headspace right now.”

Nigerian superstar Fireboy DML draws up the rules of engagement as soon as we get on a Zoom call. The notoriously reticent singer, fresh from enjoying the biggest year of his musical career, powered by the international breakthrough of his single "Peru," is checking in from London. The city has become somewhat of a second home for him of late and it is here that Fireboy is ensconced while getting ready to kick off promotional activities for his third studio album, Playboy, which arrived last Friday.

The 14-track album comes almost two years after Fireboy’s last pop effort, Apollo ,which in turn was released about nine months after his stellar debut, Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps. On Playboy, Fireboy moves further away from his previous records and embraces the mainstream afrobeats sound hinted in recent hits like "Peru" and "Bandana," with newbie Asake.

He tells OkayAfrica about putting the album together below.

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Culture
Image courtesy of the artist

Spotlight: NK Is The Future and Star of His Own Show

We spoke with the 18-year-old visual artist about creating art from his surroundings and empowering his generation.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

In our latest piece, we spotlight Ghanaian digital artist NK. The self-proclaimed Afrocentric visual artist's love for drawing and sketching at a young age pushed him to explore the many ways in which modern technology supports and advances creativity. Simply playing around with a popular photo editing app propelled the young artist into a world of self discovery, empowerment, and a keen understanding about how big the Universe we call home actually is. As the digital creative puts it, "I think my interest in space and what could exist outside the world we live in also had an impact on my desire to incorporate futuristic technology with cultural art." Armed with a keen interest in all things Afrofuturist, NK's futuristic eye has gained the teen artist recognition from some of his industry faves, too.

We spoke with the 18-year-old visual artist about creating art from his surroundings and empowering his generation.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.


Describe your background as an artist and the journey you have taken to get to where it is today.

I grew up with an interest in art and drawing. I loved to draw and sketch, usually with both pen and pencils, whatever was interesting around me. I would make compositions of items within my surroundings and paste them on the walls of my parent’s rooms. My interest in the digital world peaked around the ages of 14 and 15 -- I've always been intrigued by astronauts and futuristic technology. I started digital art in 2017 when I created 2D pieces on the PicsArt app on a phone at home. Eventually, I gained access to the Adobe Photoshop software.

Artists like David Alabo, Beeple, Basquiat, and Juan Carlos Ribas inspired me and also made me think of what I could achieve if I tried. I spent a lot of time watching tutorial videos and related content online to be able to develop my skill. Initially, I created my pieces by combining a number of stock images and online resources to create an entirely new fictional scene. Around early 2020 I had a creative block and was desperate to find new sources of inspiration. Over time I came to the realization that my inspiration surrounded me and that I shouldn’t have to force creativity. I did more research on Afrocentric art and stepped out of my comfort zone to create my first Afrocentric pieces, “Gateway to Paradise” and “Modernization”. These pieces attracted a lot of attention and also the smArt magazine which granted me my first interview and magazine feature opening the door to new relationships in the creative industry, various opportunities, and collaborations.

What are the central themes in your work?

My work is mainly centered around the expression of development in the Black experience and empowering African Culture. I try to factor in Afrofuturism and Afrocentrism in making my pieces whether it’s how my models are dressed, their accessories, or represented by items that surround them. My pieces are intended to put forward the message of creating brighter futures and realities where Africans thrive. This helps give my pieces in themselves an identity.

How did you decide on using a digital medium for your art?

Even though I do draw and sketch, I also feel very comfortable using digital software which to me offers endless possibilities. I believe that using digital media as an African artist helps bridge the gap between technology and cultural art, directly falling in line with my field of interest, Afrofuturism.

How has the pandemic affected you creatively?

The start of the pandemic in 2020 was devastating. A lot happened during that period. It was during the lockdown that I made the decision to transition into creating Afrocentric art. We were made to take a break from school, which freed up a lot of my time. I had the time to research, watch tutorials and practice more. It might have been one of the most defining years for me as an artist. It also granted me a larger audience as everyone was made to work from home. I actually learned a lot and worked hard during that period and this led to my work improving massively.

Can you describe your artistic relationship with ‘Afro-futurism’?

Afrofuturism is a theme I can really relate to as a young African. It's our responsibility to contribute to our development as a people. I think my interest in space and what could exist outside the world we live in also had an impact on my desire to incorporate futuristic technology with cultural art. I like to think of what we can achieve, the seemingly impossible things, and then I pour out those thoughts and ideas into my art and that is why I immediately fell in love with Afrofuturism. We are the future, the stars of our own show.

Can you talk about your use of colors and accessories in your art?

The most dominant figure in my pieces is usually the black figure/model which usually stands out as the main subject. Regarding the backgrounds, I usually try to make a scene with colors to create a particular mood or in some of my pieces to complement the clothes of the model, usually African prints. They range from solid backgrounds to gradients and various sky textures. I use different cultural accessories both for beautification and also to provide that Afrocentric feel and message. I love to use various beads, bracelets, and traditional cloths with interesting textures to convey these messages of who we are as Africans and where we come from.


Artwork by NK

"Cultural Adornment"

Interview

Interview: Ajebo Hustlers Are Port Harcourt’s Latest Cherished Export

We talk to the rising duo about breaking into the Nigerian mainstream with hit tracks like "Symbiosis," "Barawo," and "Loyalty," and their upcoming project, Bad Boy Etiquette 101.

It’s easy to forget the dark realities that still plague most African countries when looking through the lens of their rising global stars. The fame of artists like Wizkid, Kizz Daniel, and Olamide, is also said to cloud the economic, social, religious, and civil problems that affect everyday citizens and their harsh realities.

Artists emerging from these harsh realities bring a different essence to how they create, crafting their stories with vivid detail, eager to share with the world what they’ve been through and why they should be heard. Their talent is being fueled by a rage to escape what they’ve seen. Coming from a nation that produced one of the most radical speakers of his time, Fela Kuti, it's not hard to understand why music as a form of protest easily runs in the blood of the country’s music veins.

This is why when an artist breaks out from this system, much is to be celebrated especially when you come from heavily exploited regions like Port Harcourt. Indigenes of Nigeria’s infamous home of crude oil often rue the mineral’s presence because of its impact on their land and people. Thick black smoke billows into the sky on a daily basis, polluting the entire ecosystem, and making the Port Harcourt dream to rise above these fumes.

Like phoenixes rising from the ashes, the duo of Piego and Knowledge, known as Ajebo Hustlers, represent hope for a generation of creators from this region. Making music that seeks to probe your awareness of their realities, accompanied with the right rhythms to beckon listeners to move their bodies. They found their sound and stuck to it, following the footsteps of other Port Harcourt stars like Timaya and Burna Boy, who have similar approaches, and have ascended to the famed halls of Nigerian music stardom.

We spoke to Ajebo Hustlers about their come-up, how growing up in Port Harcourt shaped their lives and music, breaking into mainstream Nigeria with hit tracks like "Symbiosis," "Barawo," "Loyalty," and their upcoming project.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Image by @signaturebyKam

Listen: Mádé Kuti Pleas For 'No More Wars' In Latest Single

The Grammy nominated singer-songwriter blends easy listening with a powerful message in his first drop of 2022 so far.

Nigerian musician Mádé Kuti has released his first single of the year, and it comes with an important message.

The latest of the Kuti dynasty to break into the music scene, Grammy-award nominated Mádé releases his new single 'No More Wars', via Partisan Records. The groovy track is the first in a series of singles the singer will be releasing before the end of the year. It's the first time we've heard from Kuti since he joined his father, world-renowned Afrobeat ambassador Femi Kuti, on their joint venture 'Legacy +'.

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