29 July, 2021

Song Of Calumny

Singer Ngema weaves strong anti-India sentiment in a song that he says mirrors their society

Song Of Calumny
Mbongeni Ngema was for most parts considered an honourable man, until a few weeks back when he sang a song full of lyrical venom against the Indian community. Known for his gutsy plays during the country's dark apartheid days and acclaimed worldwide for his singing prowess, Ngema's song Amandiya (Indians in Zulu) on his recently-released CD Jive Madlokovu has Indians fuming.

Amandiya begins ominously—Oh brothers, oh my fellow brothers/We need strong and brave men to confront Indians—and then portrays Indians as oppressors worse than whites (see above). Angry Indians surely were. But the song also brought back memories of the 1949 and 1985 riots between Indians and Africans in Durban, goading lawyer Ramesh Jethalal to move the Durban High Court against the song's unrestricted sales and distribution. The South African Human Rights Commission too stepped in, branding Amandiya as constituting "hate speech". The commission is also investigating an incident where the attack on an Indian shopowner in Durban by blacks has been attributed to...

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