UPDATE, 26 MARCH, 21:40: Media24 follows Toyota as it also ends partnership with Afrikaans is Groot
UPDATE, 26 MARCH, 16:00: Toyota is out and MTN still negotiating as Afrikaans is Groot asks its fans for support
*Update: This article was updated to include a new statement from Toyota. (See full statement below)
*Update: MTN has responded saying: "MTN is currently reviewing its bouquet of sponsorships and its association with AIG". (See full statement below)
Cape Town – The Afrikaans music concert, Afrikaans is Groot (AIG), is once again causing uproar on social media for including controversial singer Steve Hofmeyr in the show’s 2019 line-up.
Steve, known for his extremely provocative statements about race and right-wing comments, is featured front-and-centre on the poster for the new show which will be taking place over five sold-out performances from 14 to 17 March in Cape Town at GrandWest Casino, as well as in Pretoria at the Sun Arena at Time Square Casino in November and December this year.
In 2014 Steve tweeted: "Sorry to offend but in my books Blacks were the architects of Apartheid. Go figure."
SEE THE TWEET HERE:
The shocking tweet caused massive uproar and backlash.
In 2015 both Land Rover and Pick n Pay pulled their sponsorship with AIG due to Steve's involvement in the show and his racial comments.
Since then the singer has made a profusion of similar statements which has seen several festivals cutting ties with him and brands distancing themselves from him.
On 14 July 2018, Steve tweeted: "When I criticize black government or exercise freedom of speech or enjoy my cultural expression, I lose vast amounts of income to boycotts. Fact: we dont do this for accolades."
In reaction to Steve’s tweet Afrikaans singer Jay du Plessis, who will also be performing at AIG, replied: "I know the feeling and feel the crunch on my family financially, but it will be completely irresponsible to keep quiet and I will never be able to sleep at night or face my people by day if I did not speak up."
Just last month 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?)
SEE THE TWEET HERE:
Now Twitter is yet again calling for a boycott of Steve as he is set to perform at the concert that includes artists like Bobby van Jaarsveld, Karlien van Jaarsveld, and Karen Zoid – to name just a few.
"Guys. Are we aware that there’s a show in this, our land, that has Steve Hofmeyr as a headliner with sponsorship support...," Twitter user, @ShanduMul, tweeted whilst listing several brands whose logos appear on the AIG website.
She added: "I have zero qualms with a festival that promotes Afrikaans music. That’s lovely. But we must be very clear that Hofmeyr’s politics are not about promoting language and culture. Anyone and brands willing to associate themselves with him ain’t shit. This is absolutely gross."
"Journalists should write about these brands sponsoring white supremacists and Apartheid apologists like Steve Hofmeyr and Jay. Members of the public should be writing to and phoning up these companies until they stop funding white supremacists and Apartheid apologists," wrote Twitter user, @ex_post_facto.
Channel24 reached out to as many of the sponsors as possible for comment on their involvement in the show featuring Steve as the headlining act. Most of the brands listed as sponsors on AIG’s marketing material for the show said they are not involved in any of the creative elements of the show. None of the sponsors, except for MTN, said they would consider withdrawing their sponsorship based on Steve’s involvement.
A promotional video for AIG on its Facebook page described it as "a beacon of hope in a time of challenges". The video added: "It’s the manifestation of belief, hope, and love".
The video, showing photos of all the artists performing, also states: "You pick yourself up when you fall, and hold hands with your fellow man in a time of hardship. Nobody can take that away from you. Nobody can steal it from you. It’s your humanity. Your heritage. Your legacy. It’s your language. It’s your country. Afrikaans is Groot is yours."
Clynton Yon, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications at Toyota, responded to Channel24 in an e-mail stating: "Toyota South Africa sponsors a number of cultural and sporting activities including music events such as Afrikaans Is Groot, which features more than 300 participating artists. We are, however, not prescriptive when it comes to the creative process – this is outside the scope of the contractual agreement."
Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive for Corporate Affairs at MTN South Africa, told Channel24: "Afrikaans is Groot is a great platform to appeal to speakers of Afrikaans, from all walks of life. MTN believes in supporting and showcasing South Africa’s musical talent and promoting music that exposes more South Africans to the many different genres that exist across our diverse nation. MTN’s Maskandi sponsorship has proven to be a huge hit, exposing more South Africans to this form of traditional Zulu folk music that is now performer by men and women, attracting a following outside of just Kwa-Zulu Natal.
"The AIG music concert has its extensive line-up of well-known and developing Afrikaans musicians and offers world-class production which makes it a great platform from which to reward and grow our Afrikaans speaking base. South African local music is rich with talent but it is tough to break into the music industry and any platform that promotes access to music-loving audiences should be encouraged and preferably not undermined by the racist rants of one performer.
"However, MTN is currently reviewing its bouquet of sponsorships and its association with AIG, which began in 2015, is part of that consideration. We are looking at all relevant sponsorship criteria such as awareness, exposure, brand engagement and risk and unfortunately, this platform’s continued association with Hofmeyr remains a significant concern to our future involvement with AIG".
Yvonne Beyers, Editor of Huisgenoot, sent the following reply to Channel24 via e-mail: "Huisgenoot features articles on many of the popular singers who will be performing at Afrikaans is Groot on a regular basis. Many of our readers attend Afrikaans is Groot as well as the other concerts in the AIG stable, such as Classics is Groot, Country is Groot and Alternatief is Groot.
"We are not involved with the production of these shows or with the selection of artists performing at the shows, but publish coverage of these shows and interviews with many of the artists in our magazine as well as on our digital platform. We also publish marketing material related to the shows as this information is relevant to many of our readers."
Henriette Loubser, Editor of Netwerk24 - whose logo appears on the November/December promo material for the concert, gave the following comment via e-mail: "Afrikaans is Groot is a very popular concert among our readers with a wide variety of the top Afrikaans artists taking part in the shows.
"As such we do report on the concert as it is a big news event in the Afrikaans community. The concert is a platform for the arts, not a political platform. We were also willing to be a media sponsor which entails advertising space for the concert on our platforms and making readers aware of when the shows are taking place."
Barnard Beukman, Editor of Beeld, replied to Channel24’s request for comment with the following statement: "Here seems to be no new incident or real backlash, just an old issue being rehashed. Beeld is involved since Afrikaans is Groot is a mainstream Afrikaans music event... Participating artists are guided by strict rules in their contracts on what they may or may not do or say on stage. It is merely a show of the past year’s music hits and some golden oldies."
Izelle Venter, Channel Head of VIA, said the television channel "has a standing content agreement with Afrikaans is Groot which includes marketing exposure on various of our platforms. We’re not a sponsor but a content partner."
Huisgenoot, Beeld, Netwerk24, and VIA are all owned by Media24.
Afrikaans is Groot:
Channel24 also reached out to the organisers of AIG for comment. Johan C Venter, spokesperson, replied with the following statement: "I’m sending an extract from our press release from 4 November 2014 when we addressed the same topic. This extract explains Afrikaans is Groot’s position relating to the topic. Our position on the matter has not changed since then.
"It is not the function of AIG to get involved or comment on the personal or public viewpoints of any artist, including Steve. Those who bought the tickets did it with his participation as part of the offering – each ticket is a contract with the buyer. Therefore, as one of the country’s most popular music stars, Steve is still performing in the concert.
"If AIG has to judge all of the more than 300 singers, choir members, instrumental artists, dancers, production coordinators and technical support crew on subjective viewpoints, personal choices, lifestyle, or religion it would be impossible to stage a music concert any place in the world. Those involved are expected to conduct themselves in line with their contracts and the constitution – just as the case will be at any other employer. AIG will review anybody’s role that is formally found in breach of their contract or the constitution.
"AIG has immense appreciation for the involvement of sponsors in the Afrikaans music industry and their contribution towards its tremendous success."
Several brands listed on the AIG website as sponsors, have said they are not involved in the 2019 concert featuring Steve Hofmeyr at all.
The Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport’s logo appeared on the latest promo material for AIG. Waldimar Pelser, Editor of Rapport, confirmed that the publication is not a sponsor of the show and was not aware of the fact that its logo was being used. On Thursday morning Rapport’s logo was removed from all marketing material.
Spokespersons for both Jacaranda FM and Coca-Cola, whose logos appear on the AIG website, confirmed to Channel24 that they are not sponsors of the 2019 concert featuring Steve Hofmeyr. Their logos, although appearing on the website, was not on the promotional material for the show.
Camilla Osborne, Head of Communication for Coca-Cola in Southern and East Africa, told Channel24: "We can confirm that one of our bottling partners, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA), entered into an agreement to secure the exclusive pouring rights at an event called 'Alternatief is Groot' taking place at Loftus Stadium back in February. This event has a different line-up and market appeal, and Steve Hofmeyr is not part of this event.
"CCBSA were later approached by the organisers of Afrikaans is Groot and the team declined to get involved with this specific event. We are investigating why our logo is being used on the Afrikaans is Groot website and will be asking the organisers to remove our logo from it."
Johan C Venter, spokesperson for AIG, confirmed this saying the sponsors listed on the website aren’t all involved in the 2019 concert featuring Steve specifically but perhaps other AIG initiatives like Classics is Groot or Alternatief is Groot. He said that AIG would look into clarifying this on their website.
Channel24 is part of 24.com a division of Media24.