‘We don’t hate Indians’

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IOL ND HIP HOP 2 INLSA Members of the African consciousness hip-hop group AmaCde whose song UmhlabUzobuya has been labelled anti-Indian hate speech. Front from left, Kekesto Jali, Mnqobi Ndlovu and Anele Khoza. At back, Vumani Mqadi. Picture: Jacques Naude

THE “hip-hop” group whose song has been blasted by Indians as hate speech is sticking by its controversial lyrics, despite the South African Human Rights Commission being drawn into the row.

But boy band AmaCde said the song Umhlab’Uzobuya (The land will return) was not an attack on anyone.

The song opens with the lyrics: “For sure, wherever you are asking yourself what we can do with Indians, they are staring Africa in the eye, brutally rubbing salt in the sore.

“Africans what have we done? You Indians what do you want in this country?

“Black people let us stare them in the eyes and tell them to go back and cross the ocean. If they refuse, it is time for action.”

While not meant as an attack on Indians, the group said there were indeed Indians who “abused, exploited and mistreated Africans and who gave all Indians a bad name”.

“If they feel guilt as a collective, there is nothing much that we can do about it,” said Mnqobi Ndlovu, leader of the KwaMashu band.

He described their songs as “consciousness music” aimed at raising issues affecting the African community.

The SA Hindu Maha Sabha wrote to the human rights commission this week and also attached a list of complaints about anti-Indian comments being posted on social media.

Commission spokesman, Isaac Mangena, confirmed receipt of the complaint, saying they had also received other complaints alleging the lyrics were derogatory and incited hatred against Indians.

The complaints were being assessed with a view to investigating them, Mangena said.

Ndlovu said in an interview this week: “There are definitely very genuine Indian people who are truly humane to African people, but we are yet to see them stand up and stand out and confront their fellow Indian brethren who perpetuate this abuse, exploitation and mistreatment which gives all Indians a bad name.”

Asked what he meant in the song by “taking action”, he said that they were advocating “for those in power to intervene”.

Ndlovu said they had not yet been contacted by the human rights commission or any other body.

Suppressed

“We do not respond to people whose interests are to see issues suppressed,” he said.

“This issue is not an ideological debate, but it is a reality for many Africans in this province. To simply assume that we would make a song solely on the basis of hate is unintelligent.”

The song is not available in mainstream record shops, but is available for downloading and distributed free at taxi ranks.

Professor Keyan Tomaselli of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society at UKZN said owing to audiences interpreting messages differently, based on their culture, class, religion, race and gender, it was not surprising that the song had been perceived as anti-Indian

He said taking offence to such lyrics could possibly be a coping mechanism for Indian people who form a small and therefore more vulnerable population in the country.

“They may naturally be more sensitive and will call the author to account.”

The SA Hindu Maha Sabha said it had been inundated with complaints about the lyrics, along with anti-Indian hate speech posted on social media.

“Based on the number and intensity of the complaints received… the South African Indian community views these attacks in an extremely serious light,” its president, attorney Ashwin Trikamjee, wrote in his letter to the commission.

“There seems to have been an increasing number of racial attacks against the South African Indian community in recent years.”

Recalling the atrocity of foreigners being attacked and killed in South Africa, Trikamjee warned: “This time if we are not careful, it will be our people who are targeted.”

The anti-Indian Facebook rants have been posted by someone with a profile called Skhanyiso Edgar Khanyile, who describes himself as a law student at Unisa.

However, Unisa spokesman, Martin Ramotshela, said there was no student with that name registered for law or for any other course. - Daily News


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