Dookoom pulls no punches

2014-10-12 06:00

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A Western Cape hip-hop outfit’s angry new video has picked up on the simmering tensions on farms in the Cape, write Charl Blignaut and Raymond Willemse

In a week that saw Cosatu’s Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich responding to farm workers’ evictions by calling for a “war of justice” and threatening that farms will be “occupied on a large scale”, a soundtrack to the tensions is joining the debate.

It should create even further unhappiness from farmers. This week, AfriForum told City Press it intends to take legal action against the song and the video.

Dookoom is a hip-hop outfit fronted by legendary underground Cape Town rapper Isaac Mutant. Mutant was a huge influence on Die Antwoord’s development as gangster rappers from the Western Cape.

Dookoom’s new song is controversially titled Larney Jou P**s. In it, the band rolls a burning tyre across farm land and emblazons their logo on to a hill. Some viewers will see it as a visual representation of burning down farms.

Speaking to City Press, Dookoom insist they aren’t trying to incite violence but rather provoke debate.

The song places the band’s politics as a reaction to the Cape’s history of slavery, colonialism and the “dop system” – when farm workers were paid in alcohol.

But there will no doubt be a furious reaction to the track and its accompanying album release next week.

Another track on the EP contains the lyrics “shoot the boer”, reflecting Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema’s rallying cry that was deemed by the courts to be hate speech in 2011.

On the Larney track, Dookoom plays on the children’s church song Father Abraham but twists its lyrics: “Farmer Abrahams has many farms/ Many farms has farmer Abrahams/ I work one of them/ And so do you/ So let’s go burn them down.”

It’s this that has provoked the anger of AgriSA and AfriForum, whose deputy chief executive Ernst Roets told City Press the lobby group “intends to request the author to withdraw the song and the video within 24 hours”.

He added: “If this request isn’t adhered to, AfriForum will take legal action against the authors.

“The song is in violation of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act and its statements are not protected by the Constitution.

“Imagine for a moment a white Afrikaans person publishing a song in which black people are repeatedly chanted to be ‘k*****s’?...?Feel free to argue but I am certain there would be a national outrage.”

But Dookoom says: “There is a difference between expressing anger and inciting violence. Let’s focus on why people are angry. Surely treating workers worse than animals is an incitement to violence?”

Ehrenreich, meanwhile, was unapologetic about his statements at a press conference in Cape Town earlier this week.

“I don’t care in the least what the farmers think and say about me. There will always be us against them if they don’t change,” he told City Press’ sister paper Rapport.

He says his intention is not to incite violence. “The racist farmers will always say I incite violence. I don’t care what they think and say. Farm workers still live in terrible conditions and are being put off the farms.

“Instead, what we did was warn them and the government that if things do not change, there will be a revolution. This does not always mean violence, but radical change.”

He says he is speaking on behalf of farm workers. “They are happy with what I say.”

This isn’t entirely true – some farm workers in De Doorns, outside Cape Town, say the sector doesn’t need any more violence.

De Doorns and other Boland towns exploded in 2012 during a bruising strike by farm workers over wages. Wilfred Frolick, who has been working on the farm Denau Boerdery for more than 22 years, says the video can be seen as hate speech.

“It is clear in the video that they want to occupy land and chase people from their farms. What is sad is that young people are used in the video to do the dirty work. It is a sad day when young people are manipulated by others to get their way,” says Frolick.

“Violence never has and never will solve problems. Look what happened in Zimbabwe.”

Another man, who preferred not to be named, says though many are still unhappy with their working conditions, nobody wants the trauma of another strike.

“Too many were injured and we still have the scars. The video can rub people up the wrong way and incite violence, but I don’t think it will flare up here again. Perhaps in other places.”

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