[Possibly as good a time as any to remind readers that while i don’t necessarily agree with all the points made in every post that is published on my blog, i do believe that the conversation and engagement with pieces like this is absolutely invaluable and i think it is so helpful to know and understand why people around us are thinking what they are. If you agree or disagree with anything in this post, jump into the comments section and let’s engage, but play nice]

PW Botha once said: “the black man is only as good as singing and digging”. There is one thing that PW Botha never understood and that is the songs sung are not just songs they are an expression of the heart. The anger of the black people were carried in songs, therefore when PW Botha spoke about singing what he was talking about was the emotions of the blacks expressed in singing. It’s sad that he pointed out two contradicting actions, one was externally motivated (slavery) that is digging and the other was internally exasperated by the emotions (anger from hatred of slavery). This makes music a very powerful tool of expression. I was amazed when I heard that amazing grace was written by John Newton and the melody of the song is a black slave kind of melody and rhythm. This song was written as a conviction that slavery was wrong! What is more interesting about this song “amazing grace” is that the writer even uses the slavery rhythmic sound.

We need to understand that songs were a motivation, they were sung with a meaning, they were sung with a mission and they were sung with goals. There is a song that got Malema into hot ashes (Dubula ibhulu) that song was a motivation at the time. It was a response to a monstrous system that was tutoring the black child at the time.  I do think and believe that “Dubula ibhulu” must be part of our history the rich history of South Afrika. I think this song as it was composed at the time it played a very vital role in encouraging those who were involved in the armed struggle. It should be part of the education of children today such that they would know then strength behind the things that they take for granted. Let me just try to expose the relevance of this song during the time:

1) In this time the people who were involved in the armed struggle went to fighting without being well resourced in-terms of weapons. The price was high and there were more chances of dying and being arrested. Because there were many who used Pangas, stones and petrol bombs as compared to those who were carrying guns there had to be a kind of motivation.  Now the motivation either came from the cause itself of-which I do think that mostly it came from the cause. But also remember that the cause only has the power to drive an individual but the song carries the power to unite a group of people singing the same song and being driven towards the same goal this means that this song at this time was vital for retaliation regardless of the limitations. therefore this song must be part of our heritage.

2)   In the battlefield not so many intellectuals were involved but they were only involved in the intellectual and diplomatic engagements with whites in trying to convince the whites that “we are also humans”. The only intellectuals who took a different approach from this kind of approach were only found in the 1960’s where PAC leadership was entirely arrested under the leadership of Robert Mangaliso Sobukhwe. This means that mostly people who were foot soldiers were uneducated as a result I have learned that many of the people who went into exile for military training of different political organisations are not so well resourced in terms of political education. Now the political education is never separate from resistance hence Steve Biko when defining black consciousness he does not leave out the process of resistance. Now if there is no much of political education what would have motivated the resistance if not a song? This song motivated the martyrs not to back down, not to retreat and not to surrender but to soldier on. therefore this song must be part of our heritage.

3)  Also songs tells stories of a particular time, I think for those who did not live in the cities where they would know and understand the current issues regarding the struggle they would listen to songs and understand what more or less is happening. I remember as a young boy growing up there was a song that went like “Oliver Thambo thetha no botha akhulule u Mandela” (Oliver Tambo speak with Botha to release Mandela). Just by this song without being told of what was happening at the time anyone can just tell that Mandela is arrested and Mandela is the hope of the people and the current leader they have is Oliver Tambo. Now this shows that songs summarized issues. Now “dubula ibhulu” was a summary or what we can possible call a program of action for the time.  Now if we all believe that every response that blacks gave as resistance was right in every right then this song should be embraced by us all. This song must be part of our heritage.

I further think that if we truly believe that every act of resistance that was during the apartheid years played a major role in bringing about what we see today and we do love and embrace what we see and also want for more than this in terms of improving and building up the country then the song “dubula ibhulu” is very much part of that hopes and actions and celebrations. I fail to understand why would we celebrate the picture of Hector Pieterson (The June 16 picture) and yet despise such a revolutionary song. Also as much as that picture of Hector Pieterson played such an incredible role in bringing about what we see today then “dubula ibhulu” is not less. I think in our museums we should have the lyrics of this song written because it carries so much pain and so much resistance in it.

The argument that this song incites violence and it led to the killing of Eugene Terreblanche I totally disagree with it. The thing is more black people are dying in our communities and there is no song that is sang that says “kill the blacks”. It is in the black townships where the murder rate is so high and not in the farms or suburbs where white people are found. Therefore more than anything else I think this song is a political statement and it is confrontational to the status quo if it was not then we would enjoy this song. The reason why there are some of us that are scared when this song is sang it is simple because the past is following them or they are still holding on to the past. This song when we look at it today we should see that it meant to pull down the system, to dis-anchor the superiority of one over the other. If I were to ask how many people died because this song was sang? I don’t think there will even be one reason being people don’t die because songs are sang. Im just reminded of a song by Lil Wayne (an American rapper) which says “I feel like dying” I have never heard of any person who listened to this song and committed suicide afterwards. I am imagining a country where both white and blacks sings this song together because it helped bringing salvation to those who were superior and those who were inferior but can we sing the same song if we live two different lives? Can we sing the same song if we live in two different worlds? I think part of the reason why this song is hard to sing for some is basically the guilt of the package of the past that we still carrying.

I can still remember that this song got Malema into court, there were complaints from members of the FF+. I can recall one of the intelligent responses of Malema in court he said “When Chris Hani was killed we were walking in streets of white suburbs and we were angry because the great leader who carried hope for us was killed, and we knew that he was killed by a white person but as angry as we were we never killed anyone for that, now today why would we kill anyone?” Either we must admit that there is a white and a black problem in South Afrika, or we continue to lie to ourselves. The problem is bigger than a song maybe a song does raise what is already there. If the white and the black problem was solved then we wouldn’t be worried of who sings what. Maybe new songs would have been composed that speaks of the current state of south Afrika. But because South Afrika is the same as the past then this makes “dubula ibhulu” more appealing to the person who was singing “dubula ibhulu” anfd makes “dubula ibhulu” bitter to whom “dubula ibhulu” was bitter. If anything was different then our reaction towards the song would have been different but because things are still the same then we have the same response. I am quite sure that there are many black people who feels like singing this song as they are confronted by whiteness daily. Whiteness confronts them at work place, schools, streets and everywhere else. Some are confronted by whiteness by being thought to be prostitutes, some same whiteness by being mistaken to a robber. Some are confronted by whiteness in toilets, where there are toilets written “whites only” 24 years later.

Who wouldn’t feel like singing this song if they were faced by the same realities of the past. I think this song comes because everything that is happening around these people is reminding them about the past where this song was relevant. Remember that the relevance of this song were determined by the conditions, now if the conditions defines the times when this song was relevant then shouldn’t this song be sung? This song again I say must be part of our heritage if we truly living in a new South Afrika but if not then let’s not sing this song so that our tolerance towards one another can be kept successfully.

I think also that a song carries the past and it talks about the present and it shapes how we can view the future, for example look into the church history we find the very reformation being recorded and written as hymns. According to Ps Hombana, Hymns dealt with and deals with the conscience of the person. Hymns dealt with the inner man of a person, and they deal with such today. It was a situation of the black people that lead Tiyo Soga to write the hymn “Lizalise idinga lakho”, this song was a composition from the pain of Tiyo Soga when the Xhosa people were misled by nongqawuse to kill their cows such that this event in particular had a direct impact with slavery in SA. Now to the black people songs are an expression and motivation. The power of songs gave birth to factionalism in the politics of the ANC such that when Mbeki was to be removed there was a song that went like “u Zuma lo my president”. To us as black people we sing when in pain, we sing when happy we sing when working. Even in the circumcision school there are songs that are sang for that particular circumstance. Those are motivated by the situation there. Now to the black people songs are not just composed, for even our national anthem “Nkosi Sikelela I Afrika” this was a prayer. A deep and emotional prayer of a liberation fighter who saw the situation of black Afrika as not a blessing from God. This triggered a prayer that God may bless Afrika!!! Enoch Sontonga expressed his prayer in a song. Many revolutions were born from songs that were composed by individuals for groups. Songs were also sang as a form of preserving the truth in the olden days. That is the reason why one would find that in a middle of a story (fairy tale) there’s normally a song. This makes songs to be part of our heritage, unfortunately we are new in this whole thing of literature, and then this means that our heritage is still carried in songs and stories. if we were living in a new south Afrika we would all celebrate this song but because we are still not convinced that all that was happening in the past was wrong, we continuing with what was happening in the past today and when the reaction of the past (in a song is made) we start to get worried. This song must be part of the South Afrikan heritage.

Brett Fish: For the sake of those who do not know the song, here are the words and the translation:

Ayesab’ amagwala (Cowards are scared)
Dubula! dubula! dubula nge s’bhamu (Shoot, shoot, shoot them with a gun)
Dubul’ ibhunu (Shoot the boer)
Dubula! dubula! dubula nge s’bhamu (Shoot, shoot, shoot them with a gun)
Mama, ndiyeke ndidubul’ ibhunu (Ma, let me shoot the Boer)
Dubula! dubula! dubula nge s’bhamu (Shoot, shoot, shoot them with a gun)
Ziyareypa lezinja (These dogs rape)
Dubula! dubula! dubula nge s’bhamu (Shoot, shoot, shoot them with a gun)

[For other important conversations relating to Race and Reconciliation, click here]