Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tensions Escalate Anew in South Africa

Maybe this series of events, the "kill the Boer" song, the Boers who were, in fact, killed, the murder of white supremacist Eugene Terre Blanche ... maybe this just isn't going to go away anytime soon.

The Johannesburg Times has several stories about the current tensions.

One of them, here, is what we in journalism call a think piece ... about how the murder of Terre Blanche could reinvigorate the previously fading far right wing of the white political spectrum.

It is interesting and thorough, but a bit of a heavy read. Perhaps this sums it up:

"It is possible that the killing of Terre Blanche will greatly strengthen the hand of a new hardened right wing in South Africa. In life, Terre Blanche attracted a small, uninfluential, and extremist following. He will not be mourned for what he stood for. However, in death he may come to represent the experiences of scores of minority groups in the country who perceive themselves as being on the receiving end of racist and now also violent abuse from the ANC. In effect, therefore, Terre Blanche may be seen as having been martyred for a minority cause in the country."

There is more. Much more. Including audio from an angry scene outside a courthouse, with whites led by the AWB party on one side, and blacks on the other ... and a story that Terre Blanche's body was stripped ...

Again, we're back to thinking this is not a country that ought to be the scene of an international sports event in nine weeks.

This story, about how the body of Terre Blanche was stripped, is mostly tawdry and objectionable ... but some interesting atmosphere is described at the bottom, which we will copy here:

Racial tensions were high outside the court.

At least 50 police officers and a police helicopter monitored the scene. On several occasions the situation threatened to turn violent but did not.

The police kept AWB members and farmers, and the local black community, at a safe distance from each other.

The AWB supporters sang the old national anthem, Die Stem, and the black crowd sang Nkosi Sikelela iAfrika.

Four apartheid South Africa flags and about 20 Vierkleur flags were held up during the singing. The police intervened when insults, and a bottle of fruit juice, were hurled by a woman in the AWB camp, sparking a face-off between the two groups.

Racial slurs such as "Hulle is k*****s en bobbejaane" were shouted by AWB followers, some wearing T-shirts with the words "100% Boereseun" and "Staan saam of sterf alleen" (Stand together or die alone).

Local resident Keoagile Mookisi said: "These white people are angry. They think the death is political. They are calling us k*****s. Even on farms they call us k*****s. This is how we live."

Tiaan Theron, a farmer who travelled 1300km from Beaufort-West for the trial, said the extremists' sentiments were not shared by everyone. "Vengeance only comes through God," he said.

Here is some audio from a reporter on the scene. Clearly, it was not an ice-cream-social kind of setting.

The African National Congress, which controls the government, apparently has ordered Youth Leader Julius Malema, a massively polarizing figure, to stop singing the "kill the Boer" song. Orders he may or may not obey.

And while we are plowing through an alarming but significant group of stories, consider this one: Where a South African policeman shot to death four whites he said were racially taunting him and were going to attack him.

Other countries around the world -- say, the United States -- have race-based hate. But when it comes to killing, U.S. police consistently maintain that it overwhelming stays within a racial group. Whites kill whites, blacks kill blacks, etc.

And this is just a ridiculous reason for four men to end up dead -- an argument that began over a "joke" about penis size.

What will be interesting to see is if South Africa gets a grip on the situation as the World Cup draws near.

What is fascinating, and perhaps very telling, is how all these stories of anger and hate and suspicion ... seem to live in their own seething universe. No one seems at all interested (angry populace, or media) in taking into account how this looks on the world stage ... how this plays in the living rooms of the rest of the world.

It is as if a big part of South Africa is so focused on its internal hate that it can't even be bothered to consider it has the biggest event in global sports coming to its shores two months hence.

Soccer fans, not to mention Fifa, have to find that alarming.

No comments:

Post a Comment