A Song That’s Not About The World Cup, But Is Distinctively South African

By Sarah Amos

May 26, 2010 2:22pm

Dana Hughes reports from Nairobi: In South Africa the only topic that’s gotten nearly as much attention as the World Cup is Julius Malema, the lightning-rod leader of the youth African National Congress, or ANC, ruling party’s youth league.  The always controversial 29-year-old has been beleaguered lately with scandal after scandal, including corruption accusations, publicly siding with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and  reviving and singing a song about killing white farmers.  Some South Africans have linked that song to the murder of prominent white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche. But the incident that finally caused President  Zuma, with whom  Malema is close, and the ANC to publicly admonish him was an outburst against a BBC journalist at a press conference. Malema was complaining about Zimbabwe’s opposition party being based in Sandton, a tony suburb of Johannesburg. When the reporter pointed out that Malema also lived in Sandton, the politician exploded cursing at him and calling him a “bloody agent” before kicking him out of the conference. Now  Malema’s  words are not just discussed, but grooved to. An anonymous sound mixer took that famous speech, mixed it with a house beat and posted it on YouTube.  The song “Revolutionary House” has gone viral inspiring several videos, which collectively have received more than 100,000 hits. One which features pictures of one of Malema’s previous report cards showing barely-passing grades and a baby version of Malema wearing diapers.  Another features a scroll of apartheid history.  But it’s the song that’s the real star.  The catchy chorus loops and distorting his “Bloody Agent” line behind a heavy bass beat. The bridge slows down to showcase Malema saying “Don’t come here with your white tendencies…you can go out! You can go out!” To watch the video for the song CLICK HERE.   The Los Angeles Times tracked down the creator of “Revolutionary House”, David Law, a 25-yr-old white South African who told the Times he was both horrified and amused by Malema’s behavior, and decided the best way to express how he felt would be in song. “I thought, it's my country too, and I don't want it to be tarnished by deluded individuals," he said. There have been other artistic expressions, some done by young black South Africans, also expressing disbelief and displeasure at Malema’s antics. The ANC did end up formally sanctioning Malema for his latest actions, including the press conference outburst. He was forced to publicly apologize for criticizing President Zuma and attend anger management classes. But the controversy over Malema, much like South Africa, is divided as much by class as it is by race. To many of the millions of job-less, young, black people Malema’s populist message strikes a chord. They see him as an advocate for people who feel they’ve been left behind in the promise of post-apartheid South Africa. In a recent interview with the BBC, Malema refused to apologize for what’s referred to as his “radical” positions.  "I am fighting for the emancipation of blacks and Africans in particular, politically, socially and economically," he said. "There are racial divisions in this country and the economy continues to grow but the gap between the haves and have nots continues to grow. It's radicalized." But for a country that wants to show the world it has outgrown its divisive past and is truly becoming a rainbow nation, the debate continues over whether Julius Malema is exposing those divisions to help South Africans, or exploiting them to help himself. 

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