Having dealt with the issue of key politicians dancing at inappropriate times, it is time to move our attention to a more serious issue – Umshini Wami.
This song was sung by Zulu people during the struggle against apartheid. It is literally translated to “bring me my machine gun” and is sung by Jacob Zuma and his supporters at just about every ANC rally held anywhere in the country.
The fact that this song still exists, let alone that it is sung by the future president of our country, is something I quite simply cannot come to terms with. It could not possibly be any more inappropriate. Apartheid is over, the ANC was democratically voted into power and has been there for quite some time. The war is long gone. Why then does the war song remain?
Some argue that it is now just a Zulu “folk song” as it were. This does not change the fact that the same people are singing it today that were singing it whilst killing white people in the past. Not enough time has passed for the connotations to have gone completely. Or at all. Now, when the Zulu people congregate in their thousands and chant the song up to their glorious leader who will lead them out of poverty, one cannot help but see the striking pre-democracy resemblance.
Other people may shrug it off in the belief that it’s just a song that is well known and that unites South Africans at such occasions. I am a South African. I was born here, as were both my parents. That song does not unite me with anyone. A song that implies “hand me my machine gun so that I may use it to kill off all the white people who do not belong in this country” does nothing but divide the nation once again into black versus white. It is unacceptable and furthermore and insult to those who died trying to rid the country of its racist prejudices. Does no one else see it this way? Or are white people living in the new South Africa simply too guilt-stricken and afraid to cause any trouble in an attempt to stand up for the rights they’ve been made to feel they don’t deserve?