Cape Town – Afrikaans music is once again making for controversial headlines.
This comes after several Afrikaans singers, including Bobby van Jaarsveld and Bok van Blerk, announced on social media that they will be boycotting the annual Ghoema Music Awards.
The Afrikaans music awards, which is set to take place on 17 April at Sun Arena, was asked on 25 March by sponsor MultiChoice to drop a song by singer Steve Hofmeyr from the nominee list.
Die Land (The Land), featuring Steve Hofmeyr, Bok van Blerk, Bobby van Jaarsveld, Jay, and Touch of Class, was nominated in the Best Music Video category.
MultiChoice in a letter to the Ghoemas said it would cut ties with the award show if it didn't remove the song due to Steve Hofmeyr's involvement.
Steve is known for his extremely provocative statements about race and often right-wing comments. Earlier this year the Afrikaans is Groot (AIG) concert found itself without all its main sponsors, including MTN, Toyota, and Media24, after it announced that Steve would be headlining the concert.
In the past both Pick 'n Pay and Land Rover also cut ties with AIG due to Steve's involvement after he in 2014 tweeted: "Sorry to offend but in my books Blacks were the architects of Apartheid. Go figure."
In February this year Steve tweeted a photo of himself with the old South African flag with the caption: "Good rains. Found a waterproof roof. Mooi ne." (Translation: Pretty, right?)
Joe Heshu, MultiChoice Group Executive Corporate Affairs, in a statement to Channel24 said: "We are committed to the building of a non-racial society and strongly condemn any acts of discrimination. MultiChoice is proud of its support for Afrikaans, not only our investment in content for our DStv platforms, but also our sponsorships of festivals, events and the broader Afrikaans performing arts sector.
"Our commitment to Afrikaans and all local languages will not change. It has come to our attention that Steve Hofmeyr was nominated for a Ghoema Music Award in the category for Best Music video. We have requested that Steve Hofmeyr not form part of the event that we sponsor as his views are not aligned with our values. We welcome a society where freedom of speech is celebrated, however we take a stand against racism."
BOBBY AND BOK STATEMENT
Bobby van Jaarsveld on Twitter said: "Will not be attending the Ghoemas. If our music isn't welcome, then we surely aren't either. Getting tired of keeping quiet while they bully us."
Bok van Blerk tweeted: "I will definitely not be seen at the Ghoemas…" with a thumbs down emoji.
COLESKE ARTISTS STATEMENT
Arnold Coleske, from Coleske Artists under which the song was entered, released a public statement on the matter, writing: "We are deeply saddened to receive your email notifying the industry that the video of the Die Land has been withdrawn from the Ghoemas.
"Not only does this affect the artists participating, the composer of the song and director of the video, but every other artist who receives an award, as we believe that this decision will put the integrity of the awards in question."
Arnold added: "We have to express our utter disappointment in this decision by the Ghoema Musiek Trust, which is in vast contrast with what is stipulated in the official criteria, rules and regulations. This is a slap in the face for the arts, freedom of expression and for the furtherance of Afrikaans..."
Steve Hofmeyr on his Facebook page wrote: "The bottomless childishness continues. Hi-jacking the arts, especially the white part of it. Just look at how MultiChoice is making the Afrikaners at the Ghoemas jump through a fire hoop of political correctness like poodles."
BOK RADIO STATEMENT
Bok Radio, who sponsors the Most Popular Song category, said it would be withdrawing its sponsorship of the Ghoemas due to Steve's song being removed from the Best Music Video category.
"Bok Radio can't support discrimination on any level against any artist(s), group, or language. Bok Radio supports the arts and artists right of association, poetic freedom, and freedom of speech."
Heidi Edeling, CEO of the Ghoema Music Trust, released the following statement to Channel24: "MultiChoice is the main sponsor of the Ghoema Music Awards. An ultimatum was made to the Ghoema Trust by MultiChoice to withdraw the nomination of Die Land (The Land) music video featuring Steve Hofmeyr as the company didn't want to be associated with him. MultiChoice projects must align with the values of the company.
"Coleske Artists was approached and informed of MultiChoice's ultimatum. The option was given to Coleseke Artists to withdraw the nomination. Coleske Artists were also put in direct contact with MultiChoice in an effort to resolve the situation amicably. No final feedback was received, and the Ghoema Trust was left no other option but to make an urgent decision. The trustees took a majority decision to exclude the video from the competition."
Heidi added: "The Ghoema Music Trust acknowledged the broader importance of the Ghoemas, the other artists, service providers, and tickets buyers. There are so many brilliant artists that deserve recognition. Their hard work can't be overshadowed by the withdrawal the video. The weight of the decision lies in the celebration of the artists.
"All categories, results, and performances are unaffected by removal of the video. The audit report is available one week after the ceremony to any person/s who entered."