Ignorance is bliss

2014-05-04 15:00

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Erykah Badu has been living in Joburg ­recording her sixth studio album. She hopped into a helicopter recently to ­perform at King Mswati’s 46th birthday at the invitation of convicted criminal Jacob “The Jeweller” Arabo.

Badu has since been dealing with the backlash from human rights groups for performing for Africa’s last absolute ­monarch.

Initially, Badu said she didn’t owe anyone an explanation because she was an “artist and not some phoney rights ­defender”.

This is valid. She is in fact a recording artist and not a human rights activist.

However, what she can’t get away from is where she chooses to be an artist. ­Unfortunately, artists don’t perform in a perfect world and while they may decide to perform in countries like Swaziland, this will invariably be seen as some kind of statement.

After owning her artistic freedom, Badu then went in a different direction: she claimed ignorance. She is constantly ­touring and knew nothing about the ­human rights abuses in the small country.

Also valid, but not without its limits. Badu said she had been to Swaziland before to attend a festival to “experience the culture – the dance, the dress, the make-up?...?the spirituality” and not the politics. We all have our privileges.

Then this: “I was in attendance with half of the citizens of Swaziland, who cheered him on...” Because of course a group of happy people means there are no human rights violations.

Sigh. The fact that you didn’t know doesn’t make it okay.

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