Bono, center, lead singer of Irish band U2, performs accompanied by U2 guitarists, The Edge, left, and Adam Clayton, during their concert, at FNB stadium in Johannesburg.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Bono, center, lead singer of Irish band U2, performs accompanied by U2 guitarists, The Edge, left, and Adam Clayton, during their concert, at FNB stadium in Johannesburg. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Mixed reaction to Hofmeyr’s U2 rant

By Angelique Serrao and Esther Lewis Time of article published Feb 14, 2011

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South Africans have reacted with both anger and humour to the news that Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr threw his U2 tickets into the Jukskei River.

Hofmeyr threw his tickets, worth R5 000, away in protest to Bono allegedly saying he supported the Shoot The Boer and other struggle songs.

AfriForum is embroiled in a legal battle with ANC Youth League president Julius Malema over the song, deemed as hate speech on one side, and heritage on the other.

The Sunday Times quoted Bono as saying there was nothing wrong with singing struggle songs, but they should be off limits in public gatherings.

Hofmeyr tweeted that while his rocker buddies would never forgive him for tossing the tickets into the Jukskei, his dead volk would.

The artist also tweeted that if Malema succeeded in his quest, he would sponsor the K-word in the WAT digital dictionary.

South Africans were divided in their reaction to the controversy on Facebook and Twitter.

Many said they would no longer support U2 and planned to shun their music.

Many posted on their Facebook wall comments such as: “Any person who makes statements in support of fuelling racial tension in South Africa, cannot earn my respect or support. I refuse to support U2 and think that Bono should apologise to the people of South Africa for speaking out in support of Malema and his Kill the Boer Kill the Farmer song. This nation should not tolerate his arrogance. Post this to your profile if you dare?”

Sheridan Crawford called Bono a “marooney”.

“I’m gonna go out and kill my U2 CDs,” he said.

Others found the situation a lot more humorous. Shayne Dyuphu decided to get innovative when he heard the news.

“I’ve been sitting here for 2hrs now! hoping 1 of the U2 tickets Steve Hofmeyr dumped up stream is gonna float by*fingers crossed*8-)”

Heinrich Dirk The-ll meanwhile cracked a joke on Hofmeyr’s lack of an international fan base.

“Steve Hofmeyr threw his U2 tickets in the river in protest of Bono defending Shoot the Boer (song).

“Bono reacted by saying: “Who the f*** is Steve Halfmeyer?”

Singer Chris Chameleon tweeted that it was the first time Bono chose against the side of the oppressed.

AfriForum’s attorney Willie Spies said Bono should know that it was dangerous for any artist to express themselves on politics of their host country.

He said it would be a pity if the comments of an “uninformed foreign artist” were used to justify Malema and his allies.

“Be that as it may, Malema could benefit from Bono’s advice that it is foolish to sing liberation songs to any public audience,” said Spies.

Solidarity’s Dirk Herman said he felt hurt by the comments. “It’s extremely insensitive of him. He mustn’t stick his nose into South African politics,” he said.

Herman also said he would never attend a U2 concert or support their music in future.

The Freedom of Expression Institute’s Jayshree Pather said the central issue was the definition of hate speech and the implications it had for freedom of expression.

“We should be careful about what we campaign for as hate speech so that we don’t narrow the space for alternative, critical voices to be heard,” said Pather.

U2 performed in Johannesburg last night, and is due to perform in Cape Town on Friday.

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