Editorial: Is it a defence of culture, or intolerance?

2017-08-27 06:00

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This week, actor and musician Nakhane changed the biographical information on his social-media accounts to: “Born in Alice. Raised in Port Elizabeth. Exiled in Johannesburg.”

He fears for his life after receiving death threats over his role in the acclaimed film Inxeba (The Wound), which centres on a gay love triangle set in the mountains during traditional Xhosa initiation.

And the people whipping up fury and sending him explicit death threats haven’t even seen the film, which is yet to be released.

AmaXhosa king Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu has threatened to interdict any screenings of the film, arguing that it is “too graphic”, is “insulting to the tradition” and will “provoke the wrath of ancestors”. And he hasn’t even seen it.

Nakhane, who was supposed to travel to the Eastern Cape this week, received more than 1 000 threats, such as this one: “Please boy come and sing here in cape town ... we will organise you a stadium with two car tyres and petrol and also matches ... or should we come for you...? (sic)”.

The sender hasn’t seen the film either.

Nakhane, who has himself undergone the traditional Xhosa rite of manhood, insists that the film reveals no sacred secrets.

One has to wonder, then, what all the fuss is about. Is the outrage really about guarding a sacred tradition, or is it instead fuelled by homophobia?

Nakhane’s defenders, women and non-Xhosa men, have been told by his attackers to shut up because “you are not even men”.

This is happening in a constitutional democracy. The Constitution enshrines freedom of speech and forbids discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. This accords us the freedom to produce films such as Inxeba, even though they may make some people uncomfortable.

It’s called tolerance, people. If you don’t like it, you have a choice not to watch it.

Read more on:    nakhane  |  entertainment

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