Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Harsh Words on the SA Political Front

This isn't about soccer, really. It's about South Africa. Which is going to host the World Cup in 90-some days.

South Africa is a place of some fairly intense political rhetoric. Given its history, understandably. But the place seems to move forward when it does its best to look ahead, not back.

And in this case we have the loose cannon of the African National Congress, name of Julius Malema, president of the ANC's youth league, singing a song about killing Boers in a public appearance at a university in Johannesburg.

"Boer" is the name usually given to the (mostly) Dutch settlers who dominated the country for about 400 years.

What does this mean for the World Cup?

Probably nothing. Governments of all stripes tend to put aside their internal rivalries when a huge event comes to their country. They declare a sort of truce until the event is complete.

That said, it's getting late for South Africa to have some fairly significant political turmoil. With some calling for the censure of president Jacob Zuma for various and sundry personal failings, and now we have one political figure laying "a criminal charge" against Malema (who may also be a crook, but that's another story) ... for inciting violence against Boers.

Malema apparently led a chorus of an apartheid era song that includes lyrics pertaining to killing the Boers -- who these days generally are known as farmers. Who are, in fact, sometimes victims of violence, as the linked story noted.

So, yes, fairly provocative. Where does it all go? Perhaps heated rhetoric is what South Africa does. I've been following the country only since last summer. Maybe it means nothing significant.

To those of us of a literal bent, a song that advocates killing on a race basis ... is pretty strong stuff. It would be the end of a politician's career in, say, the United States.

In South Africa, perhaps not. But it gives us a bit more insight into the backdrop on which the 2010 World Cup will be played out, three months hence.
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