Johannesburg - "Guys, Nakhane and others in that movie must be killed,” reads one of the messages.
“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)” reads another.
These are just two of over 1 000 violent responses in a response to just one social media post last month by award-winning musician and actor Nakhane.
“I wish you nothing bt badluck nakhane...i hope you die of aids.. a slow nd painful death (sic),” reads another, a common theme in the responses seen by City Press this week.
Or this: “Hang yourself or overdose. You won’t survive tomorrow.”
As the Xhosa king threatens to interdict any screenings of Inxeba (The Wound), the internationally acclaimed gay love triangle film set in the mountain during initiation, Xhosa men in particular have been relentlessly attacking the lead actor and other cast members.
But this week Nakhane, who himself was initiated and supports the cultural practice of Ulwaluko if it is done properly, was defiant:
“Inxeba is an important film to many people. And I don’t regret a single moment of being a part of it.”
He told City Press he refused to buckle under the pressure, even though he had to cancel a film shoot in the Eastern Cape this week for fear of his life.
“The threats started when the trailer for Inxeba came out last year, but they were not as violent as they became when I won best actor at the Durban International Film Festival and posted a photo from there.
“People suddenly felt I was proud of something I should be ashamed of ... People were sharing the photo, saying here’s what he looks like, if you see him, call me, let’s get him together. Even the people defending me were attacked – especially women and non-Xhosa men.
"The response was, you’re not even a man, so shut up.”
Asked if he fears for his life, Nakhane replied: “Yes. I was supposed to go shoot a film, a documentary on my life, in the Eastern Cape this week but I cancelled because I can’t go there or to Cape Town.
"I’ve changed my social media bios to, ‘Born in Alice. Raised in Port Elizabeth. Exiled in Johannesburg.’”
The talented young artist who won best alternative album at the SA Music Awards says he has not replied to the threats “because I refuse to give them power”.
“These men are nowhere to be seen when Xhosa initiates are sexually assaulted during initiation.
"Instead, they hide behind their secrecy. Where is your anger when women are raped and murdered?”
On Real Talk with Anele this week, a caller asked if he felt guilty for doing the film.
“I said I didn’t. The film doesn’t even reveal any initiation secrets, anyway.
"I’d just like people to actually see the film before they react like this ... I will say that the queer community and some women have been really supportive and my family and friends have been great.”
With his debut album Brave Confusion in 2013, Nakhane (then known as Nakhane Touré) came bursting out of the closet.
He told City Press he was going even larger on his next album, which has secured an international release through BMG.
“There’s an EP coming later this year and then the album is out in February, launching across Europe, the UK and in South Africa.
“This entire album is about power, no longer about the insecurities that I felt in Brave Confusion.
"This is me claiming my queerness and saying that I don’t need to apologise to anyone anymore about being gay or anything else. And that’s not arrogance. It’s claiming my humanity.
This week, the producers of the low-budget Inxeba released a no-nonsense statement.
“We view these inexcusable threats in a serious light, and we will be taking appropriate action against any individual who threatens violence or commits homophobic hate crimes,” said producer Cait Pansegrouw.
“It is clear that the people attempting to shut the film down are speaking on behalf of a minority, and do not represent the ‘entire Xhosa nation’ as they claim.”
One of the film’s co-writers, Malusi Bengu, asked: “Where is the passion and outrage when young boys are butchered for money by chance-takers?”
. Inxeba will have a week-long run in September in order to be eligible for the foreign language Oscar. It gets a full release in February 2018
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