One can certainly answer Polgreens’ question in the affirmative: “Does this nation’s celebrated rainbow end where the mountain meets the sea?” Yes, as the experience with the Robbie Jansen-Jimmy Dludlu controversy has proven, (see below) there are two Cape Town’s — the one a supposed liberal bastion against, shudder, one-party control by black Africans, the other a conservative throwback to the previous whites-only regime, in which petty apartheid, for all intents and purposes, remains.
Cape Town for all its racially charged allure, and struggle with integration may be home to “Goema” a distinctive beat and local style of Jazz akin to the New Orleans association with Dixie, but the predominant sound is the two-step of Afrikaner volk musiek,The subversive sound of the “goema” or hand-drum which bears its name, is synonymous with the annual minstrel or “kaapse klopse” parades but the Goema of the Capes’ many taverns and districts is still largely forbidden.
The Cape has a history of its own, but it also shares folklore with the American South, reaching far back to the emancipation of slavery. The lateHotep Idris Galeta, a South African Jazz great, placed this first contact of our fellow countrymen with black Americans and black American music, as “the 30th of June in 1889” when “the minstrel troop of Orpheus Myron McAdoo’s “Virginia Jubilee Singers” from Hampton Virginia appeared in concert in Cape Town.”
Much of this interwoven musical tapestry is tragically being lost, as Jazz music becomes just another tourist commodity along with the annual Cape Town Jazz Festival, which is currently being hosted by the City and which is simply another commercial attraction for the middle class, rather than a broad venue for the expression of an eponymous and indigenous, local style of “holy music”.
An incident which occurred shortly after the opposition Democratic Alliance gained control of both the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape in 2006 is illustrative of the “subtle and sometimes hard to pin down racism” which affects one of the world’s premier long-haul destinations.
I am the author of a short piece on Cape Town jazz music legend, the late Robbie Jansen. The interview dismissed as “too controversial” by a Cape Town based apartheid-era media company, Media24, has been the subject of ongoing litigation.
Most recently I was denied leave to appeal by the Labour Appeal Court of South Africa, this despite evidence of bias & corruption on the part of the judge, but am still in the process of raising funds so that I may appeal directly to South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court. I believe the decision to be an infringement of my rights as a journalist and as an individual, in particular my right to pen articles that are inclusive of the nation’s complex racial identity and to not suffer editorial sanctions on the basis of racial profiling of readership.
The article which I consider groundbreaking for its time, and one of the few interviews conducted with the saxophonist before his death, provided space for Jansen to declaim on the 2006 SAMA music awards and more specifically to dialogue with a black Jazz guitarist, one man named Jimmy Dludlu, whom Jansen candidly referred to as the “George Benson of South Africa”.
Although dismissed as nothing more than “music politics” and “not the type of article one would find in a community newspaper” readers my recall South African Jazz musicians being forced to play behind curtains during the apartheid era. The struggle anthem “Manenburg is where it’s happening” on which Jansen appears, was often played in illegal mixed race Jazz venues, which once dotted the city in a subversive undermining of the apartheid regime’s claim to racial and cultural superiority.
The regime’s hatred of Jazz music has a parallel in Nazi race superiority, — as Josef Skvorecky so aptly reminds us, fascism and hatred of Jazz has always coincided: For one, there are all those “hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the barbarian races and conductive to dark instincts alien to the German people.”
It comes as no surprise then that the censorship case also involves anti-Semitic comments made by the management of the People’s Post to the effect that “Jews have no business attending mixed race entertainment venues on the Sabbath,” – which is why, as a Progressive Jew, I sued for unfair discrimination amongst other things.
The same company also cynically referred to the demographics of the Cape Flats, as a “coincidence of homogeneity”. The Cape Flats is a place where people of colour affected by the forced removals which followed the destruction of District 6 — a place so rich in Cape Town’s multicultural Jazz history – were brutally resettled against their will. In other words, the company which it turns out, still refuses to apologise for its part in supporting the apartheid regime, is “merely in the business of making money” and if this means upholding the legacy of the Group Areas Act, which segregated people along colour lines, by playing to a racist demographic, then so be it.
These comments recorded in court documents now appear to have the official blessing of South Africa’s judiciary. Underlings should not question their masters and Jews should be in Shul on Friday night spinning their dreidels instead of listening to Jazz.
When it comes to the laissez faire “sunset” deals made by the previous regime, it is thus moral conservatism, not any one political parties grip on power, for instance the DA now claim to be like the US “democratic party”, which remains with us at the end of the day, and which impacts upon those living in the Cape and elsewhere. The remarks by Cape Town mayor Helen Zille regarding “education refugees” from up North, have thus come at a time when people are feeling exceedingly uncomfortable about the schizophrenia of the provinces as the national debate focuses around new proposals for the return to a unitary state.
I therefore humbly request financial support from your readers for the restitution of justice in an application before the South African Constitutional Court in this matter.
David Robert Lewis
[David Robert Lewis is a writer and activist. His work has appeared in Amandla, Grassroots, South Press, Vrye Weekblad, New Nation, Afrol Online, Design Indaba, Adbusters and Music Industry Online]
In 1914 J.B.M. Hertzog forms the National Party. The following year Nasionale Pers i.e Naspers is formed by the same man, along with a daily newspaper, De Burger, later known as Die Burger.
D F Malan, a former minister in the conservative Dutch Reformed Church is persuaded to become editor and is the main supporter of Hertzog’s National Party.
In 1916 Naspers publishes its first magazine Die Huisgenoot.
In 1918 the company takes a further step towards expansion when its book publishing operations is founded as Die Burger Boekhandel.
The racially exclusive Afrikaner secret society, Die Afrikaner Broederbond is formed. A Broederbond circular from this time states: ‘The Afrikanerdom shall reach its ultimate destiny of domination in South Africa . . . Brothers, our solution for South Africa’s troubles is not that this or that party shall gain the upper hand, but that the Afrikaner Broederbond shall rule South Africa.”
D. F. Malan is one of the driving forces behind the organisation.
Piet Cillié editor of Die Burger from 1954 until 1985 is a staunch supporter of the National Party, under B J Vorster and P W Botha. Cillié upholds the apartheid system through many pro-segregation editorials until the very end.
1973-1977 The National Government under B J Vorster attempts to purchase the Washington Star. A slush fund is set up to acquire the Citizen and other English language newspapers. The secret operation is exposed by the Rand Daily Mail as the “Information Scandal”
1984, Naspers, as part of its broad propagandist strategy acquires Drum Publications, with titles consisting of City Press, Drum and True Love & Family. As well as a 50% interest in Jane Raphaely & Associates.
In 1985, under P W Botha, Nasionale Pers enters into an arrangment with Perskor, the media company founded by HF Verwoerd and publisher of Die Vaderland and Transvaler to form an all-white, Afrikaner-owned electronic pay-television media business, called M-Net, the new entity eventually lists on the JSE Securities Exchange (JSE).
In a submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), former Rand Daily Mail journalist Raymond Louw is recording as having felt “it was significant that M-Net, soon to be owned by a consortium of newspapers, got its licence in the same month as the Mail was closed” although any connection is denied by the government until this day, The Mail was clearly closed due to pressure from the Botha government and covert operations conducted by the Broederbond and Bureau for State Security (BOSS) as part of the Information Scandal.
In 1987 Naspers introduces English family magazine You.
In 1993, M-Net is divided into two companies — M-Net itself becomes a pure pay-television station while the company’s subscriber management, signal distribution and cellular telephone activities are formed into a new company called MultiChoice Limited (later renamed MIH Holdings Limited).
Nasionale Pers itself lists on the JSE on 12 September 1994 and in 1998 the group’s name is officially changed to Naspers.
The TRC is set up in terms of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act , No 34 of 1995, and is based in Cape Town. The mandate of the commission is to bear witness to, record and in some cases grant amnesty to the perpetrators of crimes relating to human rights violations, reparation and rehabilitation.
Naspers publications publish cartoons depicting P W Botha as the only man able to stand up to the TRC. P W refuses to participate. The TRC is also depicted as a ‘biegbank” or confessional and the Archibishop’s participation as nothing less than an inquisition.
In 1997 the TRC holds a special hearing into the Media, comprising four sessions in Johannesburg, (15 – 17 Sept 1997). The Afrikaans press declines to make a submission to the Commission. Instead, it provides the Commission with a copy of Oor Grense Heen, the official history of Nasionale Pers (Naspers).
Volume 4 of the Final TRC report (pg 180) observes: “The history concedes that Die Burger, for instance, promoted Verwoerd’s ideals of bantustans from an early stage and that, after Sharpville, the same newspaper advised that all positive aspects be speeded up. Occasionally,doubts about apartheid do surface but, in the main, the book reflects a total lack of concern for the company’s support of the racist system”
In the TRC investigation into the role of the Afrikaner Press under apartheid, Prof Arrie de Beer appears in his personal capacity as “a former full-time and part-time journalist in the Afrikaans Press” and as a university media lecturer and media researcher (session 4).
Some extracts from his testimony which are useful:
“There are many pseudo-legalistic and particularly sarcastically spiteful arguments in the Afrikaans media and elsewhere, why people or institutions should not appear before the TRC. These are almost as cynically brutal as the friendly open faces of the people who testified in the Vlakplaas and Hani cases as the perpetrators of these deeds, where they chose their words with great circumspection to condone the deeds before the TV and the public.” Prof de Beer.
“The one point of view which is maintained in the Afrikaans Press, is that everything that could be said about this matter had already been said in the Afrikaans language Press, and that adequate writing had taken place on this matter. This is a question which everybody has to reply to for himself. But I am not convinced that everything which the Afrikaner Press did during the apartheid years, collectively or individually, had been adequately answered.” Prof de Beer
“If one looks at the collective issue; whether the Afrikaner Press collectively had been keeping mum for too long about [crimes under apartheid], it is a fact in the heyday of apartheid years, at least three Afrikaans papers existed which were official mouthpieces of the NP, that many people of the NP were involved in the Press groups in leading positions and exercised their effect very carefully, and they criticised many people for points of view which are now commonly
accepted by the Afrikaans Press as facts of life.” Prof de Beer
In the TRC final report, Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu asks a pertinent question with regard to the failure of Naspers to make a full and proper submission: “Is silence from that quarter to be construed as consent, conceding that it was a sycophantic handmaiden of the apartheid government?”
However, after the hearing the Commission receives some 150 affidavits from individual Afrikaans-speaking journalists :– “These acknowledged the important role of the Commission and expressed disappointment at the Naspers decision not to appear.”
“They believed that the Afrikaans press had been an integral part of the structure that had kept apartheid in place, particularly in the way Afrikaans papers had lent their support to the NP during elections. The submissions maintained that, although the papers may not have been directly involved in violations, they should accept moral responsibility for what happened because they had helped support the system in which gross human rights violations occurred.”
FIFA continues to fund apartheid-era companies in South Africa. DSTV SUPERSPORT for example has rights to broadcast live coverage of the World Cup event in High Definition, but its holding company Sanlam/Naspers remains engaged in a lengthy labour dispute involving racism and discrimination in which gross failures in the coverage of issues affecting previously disadvantaged communities have come to light.
SuperSport channels “will provide spectators with full coverage of the World Cup event”. A DSTV official has stated: “there will be a 24-hour coverage and we will be bringing the games on High Definition (HD).” Yet millions without the luxury of HD languish in poverty caused as a result of FIFA partners.
Racism, whether in low or high definition is still racism, and apartheid however misconstrued via Satellite or Cable TV is still apartheid. FIFA should not allow its brand to be associated with a company which failed to make a submission to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.
In the final report Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu questioned the sincerity of Afrikaner-dominated media houses such as Media24: “Is silence from that quarter to be construed as consent, conceding that it was a sycophantic handmaiden of the apartheid government?”
In the commissions findings Naspers/Media24/MNET were condemned for their complicity in the apartheid system: ‘[Naspers] chose to provide direct support for apartheid and the activities of the security forces — many of which led directly to gross human rights violations.”
It is ironic that today’s media has failed to make these findings public and continues to hide the truth about the apartheid regime. Meanwhile FIFA continues to allow its brand to be used by the same companies associated with the worst aspects of the racist regime, and even apartheid itself.
Despite urging by activists such as myself, Media24 a print division associated with SuperSport still refuses to accept responsibility for injustices perpetrated by the corporation during the apartheid era and insists it has the right to maintain a form of race-based segregation in its newsrooms, the “multiracial, seperate but equal” race-fantasy concocted by the demogogue PW Botha.
Media24 in submissions before the South African Labour Court has now gone so far as to argue effectively that race has legal consequences and that racial categories as defined by the apartheid regime should continue to be enforced.
Jews and other ethnic minorities in the organisation, relegated to second-class status, are still required to register for the purposes of
race-based testing. I am one of them. Ironically I am technically still employed in the absence of a bone fide contract (there is also no valid letter of termination of employment in my possession) yet subject to character assassination and the absurd demands made by a racist legal system, still dominated by whites.
The Cape Bar has yet to offer substantive aid or any clarity despite there being an Informa Pauperis referral for legal aid from the High Court in an application against a company with its hand in the cookie jar of apartheid South Africa.
If one is poor in South Africa the legal system recognises this fact alone but does little to assist in restitution of the rights of the individual viz. vi. the Corporation.
In the same way Hitler’s final solution killed 6 million Jews in Germany, H. F. Verwoerd’s race solution destroyed the lives of millions of South Africans who were turned into nothing more than cheap labour to be abused by corporations such as Media24 and SUPERSPORT.
Poverty in South Africa has now become the next genocide.
I therefore call on the support of my readers to say: NO TO SUPERSPORT RACISM IN HIGH DEFINITION DEMAND FIFA INQUIRY INTO APARTHEID ATROCITIES NOW!!!
THE sad truth of South Africa’s second decade of democracy is that racism has prevailed. You see it in the vindication of those who once fought for white supremacy – to date not one apartheid general has been brought to book – you see it in the slur against Asian-Africans – so-called Chinese of South African descent, who by some weird twist of fate have now been reclassified “black” only to be scorned for not conforming to the original apartheid system which labeled them “coloured”. The list continues, as fellow South African’s fight each other over the meaning of these terms – black or white, African or not. For some, only those who belong to the two dominant Nguni clans – Xhosa and Zulu – deserve to be accorded status as black Africans. Those from minority groups, whether black or white, are now surely the next target of racist attacks, of the kind which has lead to the burning of human flesh in public.
There is nothing heroic in attacking ones fellow South African, and to call it Xenophobia only elevates the crime which is racism outright, plain and simple, finished and klaar. Others would call Xenophobia sheer stupidity, the inability to contemplate the South Africa of today in any other terms besides newspeak — a country in which so many have become mixed-up from birth. A place in which cultural affinity rather than tribal affiliation is what should identify us, as lovers of particular soaps, readers of certain books, listeners of particular radio programmes, all tellers of tales.