[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Bofelo crits JZ-cultcha
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed Feb 15 15:58:03 GMT 2006
The bourgeoisiezation project hijacks the language of humanism
By Mphutlane Wa Bofelo
These days, former South African deputy president and current deputy president of the ANC (who was also the head of intelligence in the 'days of the struggle') answers to cool, hip-popish and trendy-sounding monikers like JZ and Jay-Z. But that is not the subject of this article. Our concern here is the tribal undertones of the new nom de guerre of Jacob Zuma, "Zulu Boy" (by the way there is an Mzansi Mc\rapper who goes by this name) and the phallic symbolism of the Jacob Zuma theme-song (Awulethe Mshini wam\ Bring my machine-gun) in the context of the rape trial. The wearing of "100% Zuma" and "100% Zulu Boy" T-shirts by Zuma supporters at his rape trial amounted to subtle but clear endorsement of the unproven allegation that JZ is a victim of a "Xhosa-Nostra plot" to deny South Africa the pleasures of Zulu-speaking and pro-poor president. When his supporters shouted "Zulu Boy", Jacob Zuma waved his hands approvingly instead of rebuking them. He also did not rebuke them for calling anti-rape activists "these bitches" neither did he register his disapproval at the fact that veteran trade unionist leader, Miles Bhudu came to support him clad in a T-shi rt pronouncing "Zuma was raped"
In the context of the previous struggle against apartheid-capitalism and the present struggle against neo-liberalism and global capitalist exploitation, the song in reference is the cry and call for the downtrodden majority to be politically, intellectually, psychologically and physically armed against the forces of oppression and exploitation. It is a call for the bazooka and the Uzi and for rocket-propelled poems, bazooka saxophones, conscientious pens and commentary pencils and open canvasses not for the sake of warmongering but for the sake of social change and transformation. But in the context of the rape trial, and led by an alleged rape culprit in an environment where he is referred to as a victim of raped and the supporters of the alleged victim are labeled bitches, "mshini wam" is tantamount a crude sexist and phallic allusion to the call for the "male machine"-the penis- to deal with "these bitches". Here the objective of the machine-gun and \pen\pencil\penis is to put loud-mouthed women in their positions. It is simply insensitive and arrogant of Jacob Zuma to lead the singing of the "Awulethe mshini wam" song, in the light of the phallic images it conjures in the context of the rape trial.
This is the same song that comrade Jacob "Zulu boy" Zuma sang at hi s corruption trial when his supporters ended burning the T-shirt of the ANC's and South Africa's current president. Shortly after the T-shirt burning incident, Zuma was interviewed on Ukhozi FM. Insisting that he was a victim of an orchestrated plot and stressing the fact that he will emerge victorious at the end of it all, Zuma made reference to the fact that he grew up as a herd boy in rural Kwazulu-Natal. A friend of mine then observed that this was not a matter of Jacob Zuma boring listeners with his biographical details but rather a plea and incitement for tribal allegiance. The fact that Jacob Zuma now seem to unabashedly answer to the Zulu Boy moniker proves my friend correct.
It is unfortunate that struggle songs (Awulethe Mshini wam) socio-cultural experiences (being a herd boy) and socio-linguistic identities (Zulu boy) are being misappropriated to persue personal and cabalistic agendas that also entrench ethnic and sexist tendencies. The power of symbolic, idiomatic, artistic and cultural expression of social reality through the language of music and dance, rhythm, poetry and motion cannot be underrated. The concepts, values and principles that can be internalized through proverbs, songs, chants and poems and slogans become deeply ingrained in the mindset of the people. It is for this reason that the use of language and culture (idioms, proverbs and slogans, chants and songs) to mobilize people for specifi c causes should be treated with caution. The underlying motive should be to inculcate a sense of being and belonging and a sense of dignity and respect and to make people to be human beings rather than monsters. Within the context of the struggle against settler-colonialism and apartheid-capitalism, the main goal of people's culture (resistance theatre, rebellion poetry; toi-toi) was the re-awakening and re-humanization of the historically dispossessed, brutalized, de-humanized and de-culturised and the creation of a unifying culture grounded on a sense of South Africaness that transcends the racial, ethnic, tribal and gender boundaries. It was also to infuse the oppressed Black majority with a sense of pride and dignity and to dispel the myth of the superiority of Whites and the inferiority of Blacks and to obliterate the fallacy of the invincibility of the political, socio-economic and militar y machinery of the Apartheid-capitalist state and the helplessness of the downtrodden Black working classes and their allies. References to Bazooka's, Aka's and Uzi's in the songs were not for the glorification of bloodletting, but for the sake of stressing the possibility that a people under the jackboots of oppression can mobilize and arm themselves intellectually, mentally and physically to overthrow an oppressive regime.
Allusions to idioms, proverbs and cultural practices and values of African people were for the sake of arming them with morals and ethics that aided the mental emancipation and nation-building project rather than to promote destructive and divisive tendencies.&n bsp; For example, in motivating and encouraging women to play an active role in public life and in tackling social, political, economic and cultural issues of the day, we referred to the Sesotho\Setswana adage "Mma ngwana o tshwara thipa ka bohaleng", and in our quest for the re-discovery of humanity we rallied around the time-tested adage "Umuntu ngu muntu nga Bantu." Our proverbs, idioms; mottos, slogans and chants, poems, lyrics, songs and dances were geared at the re-humanization and liberation project. It is therefore tragic that this humanistic language of justice and liberation is being slaughtered on the alter of the careerism and bourgeoisiezation project currently raising its ugly head in South Africa (Azania) Yahoo! Terms of Service.
More information about the Debate-list