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 Revolting Troubadours on the war & peace path again.
Editorial: Revolting Troubadours on the war & peace path again.
(Dylan in T-Shirt)
Dylan at 5 (p)© David Marks 1979 / 3rd Ear Music / HYMAProject 2001
Zimbabwe & the UN Conference on Racism in Durban. The Hidden Years repeated?

The UN Conference on Racism in Durban sparked off some fiery debate before it had even started. Good! Pity then, that a bunch of political hooligans saw fir to hijack the opening days - just to air their own brand of racism; emotionally charged as they are from countries, communities & families that practice racism, religious intolerance & gender inequality? What is encouraging to note though, through all this din & empty racket - outside of this event - is that there are musicians who can still make a constructive noise when they want to & hopefully, when they are needed to; but will it make a difference? Throughout the Hidden Years many SAfrican musicians had their dreams destroyed & careers curtailed because they dared to mouth off in anger, by demonstrating their disgust & anger at racism & corruption - within their own environment & experience. SAfrica had its very own despotic dictators in power back then - just like Bob Mugabe - Remember Malan, Verwoed, Vorster & Botha? The only difference between them & now is time, technology & in your face colour TV.

It was sad to see those Zim farmers, their families & workers being raided & intimidated by thugs & humiliated by so-called public servants; echoes of Limehill & Stinkwater back in 1967 & what it must have been like in Sophiatown in the early 60's. There's no measure to the human suffering that fear & racism causes - then & now; but the tragedy now is that these farmers feed the nation & employ millions of poor people. Supporting the Farmer doesn't mean condoning unfair labour practices & exploitation on the farms - but ethnic cleansing & murder, for any reason is no solution. In amongst this horror TV, it is good to note & encouraging to hear, that not all music people have been comfortably numbed by free speech & relative freedom; when you haven't got it, you soon know what it's all about! So they say!

To ban or omit anybody from this conference - especially those that come from countries that are still subjected to racism, religious intolerance & gender inequality - will turn this conference into another expensive tragic idealistic farce with the punch line delivered by those who can shout the loudest. And who will want to remember that? So, here's hoping that good sense prevails & that the objectives of the conference - as vague & as many as they may be - are attained & understood. It's about racism, not for racism.

To see & hear what is going on in Zim & to do or say nothing about it is tantamount to supporting it. If the delegates & the rappers at this conference are serious about historic compensation & reparation, then they should make certain that those who are contributing to Africa are free & safe to do so. The Farmer's Feed Us All - regardless of what their forefathers did or did not do. If they weren't interested in Africa - for whatever reasons - they would have gone back to wherever they supposedly came from, centuries ago. The Boers are as African as the sand & the lifeblood of Africa no matter what; and for these (so called) War Vets in Zim & their apologists to target farmers & their workers spells disaster for everybody in this region. Looking backwards or living in the past while there are millions of people out of work & starving on this continent; is no solution to their fears & loathing. The workers bear the brunt of this political madness. It is up to the governors to govern & lead the people who elected them to do so.

The situation has reached bizarre levels in both South Africa & Zimbabwe - not unlike ethnic cleansing in Europe. Far more farmers have been killed in South Africa than in Zimbabwe - but who's keeping score? People are dying - and as Max du Preez points out that this is not about Land; there's more than enough of that to go around in SAfrica - it's about housing & jobs, racism & corruption. And (quote) all our governments' need to do is govern - dammit! Under the circumstances most of the leaders in this country - given our recent hidden history - are doing an admirable job. Let's encourage & assist them where we can - but don't let's clam up because we now perceive ourselves to be free, fair & democratic - the people of Zimbabwe need support; as do our own farmers, & the people in Palestine, Israel & India etc.

We should also spare a thought for some of those revolutionary Rappers who are out here performing - NOT free-of-charge, incidentally. They seem to be using the emotive slavery issue for their own PR - demanding financial reparation & compensation. There are far more effective ways to revisit & repay the past - farming is one - and it isn't for sissies & for foreign city people who just want to park off. As one prominent African leader pointed out, it's insult to the millions of slaves who died in captivity...handing out pay packets to politicians & pop stars who will no doubt pocket the pickings and exploit the poor to get points & publicity. Payouts will solve nothing. Where will it end?

Starting from the days of the spaced-out caveman right up to the caved in space man - from our Neanderthal fore-bearers to Sudan on our own continent & to India where slavery is still rife? Everybody will go mentally bankrupt trying to repay those they enslaved. Real people should perhaps let off a bit of that entitlement steam in a packaged Hip Hop & Rap act. Words is good for us - just a step away from poetry in motion; but too many bitter sweet nothings gives us all cultural cramp & social acne.

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