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Analysis: Does the song "Shoot The Boer" inspire farm murders?

We've all heard the claims that the EFF and ANC are behind farm murders. The evidence often given are video clips of former ANC president Jacob Zuma and EFF leader Julius Malema singing the revolutionary song "shoot the boer" or "Dubul' ibhunu" as it is known in Zulu.

But is there any truth to these claims? Could this song be the inspiration behind farm murders? Let's look at the evidence.

Historically, Dubul' ibhunu was one revolutionary song among many others during the struggle against Apartheid.

While the lyrics "shoot the boer" suggest the song is racist, its historical context proves that wasn't aimed at white people in general. Back during the struggle, there were many white people (like Braam Fischer & Joe Slovo) as well as many white nations (like Sweden, Russia, East Germany etc.) that fought alongside the black liberation movements against apartheid. The Dubul' ibhunu song was never aimed at white people but at "amabhunu" or "The Boers".

In this context, "amabhunu" was a collective term for the South African white-minority government and its white police and military* who regularly murdered and assaulted black people with impunity for generations. That is why the song was most often sung at the many funerals of anti-apartheid activists who had been murdered by the apartheid government during the struggle.

When Julius Malema sung the song at an ANC Youth League meeting in 2010, then ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe spoke about the song saying "When we talk (about) amabhunu, we were not talking (about) whites, we were talking about the system (of apartheid)... It represented the system. (The song) is not a new invention.”**

The song was never a call to engage in some race war but a song of mourning intended to express very deep and complicated emotions; the pain of being stripped of your human dignity daily and watching your people being brutally murdered for standing up against injustice.

During the memorial of slain ANC stalwart Chris Hani in 1993, ANCYL president Peter Mokaba chanted the now famous slogan "Kill the boer, kill the farmer!". According to journalist Kevin Bloom "that day Mokaba... galvanised his organisation's deep anger at Hani's murder into something concrete: a song that perfectly (and terrifyingly) expressed the anger,"**

With "shoot the boer" still being sung at rallies and protests after apartheid, could the meaning of the song have suddenly changed to apply to farm murders?

In our own analysis of farm murder stories and court cases, we have not found any direct reference to the song in any farm murder case. There's hardly any evidence that the criminals involved in farm murders regularly attended EFF rallies or sang the song during their crimes.

If the songs incited farm murders, why have we not seen any direct reference to them in any actual farm murder cases?

Because these unfounded allegations are concocted by white people with no knowledge of a vernacular language and a limited understanding of South African history. For racists in particular, the song confirms the lies they have always believed; that all blck people are conspiring to sneak into their houses with pangas and kill them in their sleep*.

It interesting how people like Willem Petzer and Afriforum's Ernst Roets (who have never bothered to learn vernacular languages nor attended any EFF or ANC gatherings) can make such bold accusations from a historical song in a 2 min video clip they saw on social media.

These same people will also complain that nothing has been done to the people who publicly sang "shoot the boer". However both Malema and Zuma were taken to court for hate speech, and Malema was banned from singing the song**. In the following years, Malema continued to sing the song at EFF rallies, mockingly changing the word "kill" to "kiss".

It's clear that the song is just one the EFF's many controversial stunts which they use to gain free publicity and attention, not an actual call to exterminate farmers. Those who complain on social media and make YouTube videos about the song are only playing into Malema's hands.

Now let's look at the stats. There has been a significant decrease in farm murders over the last 10 years. Compare 56 farm murders in 2011/2012 to 140 in 2001/2002 (SAPS statistics). Note that many of these farm murder victims were not white or even farmers. This decline in farm murders came despite the reemergence of the Dubul' ibhunu song in 2010. This is something that Afriforum and the Freedom Front Plus will never say publicly.

In fact, despite an increase in population size, social inequality and the singing of "shoot the boer", farm murders have flat lined over the last ten years to all time lows***. This doesn't mean farm murders are not a problem, it just means that there's no Dubul'iBhunu-inspired "Boer Genocide" underway.

But what about the increase in Farm Attacks? Surely the "shoot the boer" song could be responsible for that, right?

Yes there has been an increase in crimes designated as 'Farm Attacks'***, but there has actually been an increase in crime in general overall in SA.

Furthermore, crimes labelled as 'Farm Attacks' by the SAPS Rural Safety Strategy can include damage to farming infrastructure and property*** So many of the rural crimes classified as 'Farm Attacks' have nothing to do with those charged "shoot the boer" lyrics.

For example, how can cutting a farm fence or stealing tractor parts be seen as a hate crime inspired by "Dubul' ibhunu"?

So is the revolutionary song "Dubul' ibhunu" inspiring farm murders? As far as the evidence shows, the answer seems to be a resounding NO.

Our history is dark but it is also very complex. Before making claims on historic songs, we first need to understand the history and the society in which these historic songs were composed. Otherwise, all such accusations do is to promote more fear, hate and misinformation.


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