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“KILL THE BOER” Origin
The song is titled Dubul’ ibhunu and translated as “Shoot the Boer” or “Kill the Boer.” It is a South African song sung in Xhosa and Zulu. The song has been criticized by AfriForum, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and the Freedom Front Plus as being racist.
According to Wikipedia, Boers are “a sub-group of Afrikaners, the descendants of the Dutch-speaking Free Burghers of the eastern Cape frontier in southern Africa who migrated to the rest of what would become South Africa during the Great Trek.” In the Afrikaans language, the word also means ‘farmer.” The song also depends on how it is interpreted. It could be directed at the National Party (NP); “or to specific groups of people such as members of the South African Police (colloquially known as Boers) and armed forces during apartheid.”
While many have spoken against it and what it means, the song has also garnered supporters through the years. These supporters claim it articulates an integral part of the country’s history. They claim that its meaning has been misconstrued and called it a significant part of political discourse. However, people against the song would rather interprete it literally. According to them, it constitutes hate speech and, therefore, should not be sung.
According to an article by Forbes, the song was “popularized in the early 1990s by Peter Mokaba, a leader of the African National Congress ahead of the end of South Africa’s racist apartheid system of racial segregation.” In 2012, the party vowed to no longer sing the song because of the controversy surrounding it. The song had been related to a series of violent attacks on white farmers. The ANC also expelled Julius Malema that same year to ease racial tensions. Malema had said he was prepared to “kill for [the former South African President Jacob] Zuma.” Malema went on to form the Economic Freedom Fighters, which became the third-largest party in the country’s parliament (only behind the ANC and the DA).
In 2022, a case was brought by AfriForum, arguing the song incites violence and murder. South Africa’s Equality Court in Johannesburg ruled that the song did not constitute hate speech or incitement. It ruled that the song was protected by freedom of speech and that its lyrics were not intended to be taken literally.
August 2023 Controversy
The song was chanted by over 100,000 people led by EFF leader Julius Malema at the 10th Anniversary event of the Economic Freedom Fighters in Johannesburg. It sparked controversy in both the US and South Africa. Elon Musk tweeted a video from the event and claimed the organizers were “openly pushing for genocide of white people in South Africa.” He also asked the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, why he was mute on the matter.
He also posted a photo of an article from The New York Times citing historians who argue that the song should not be taken literally. In the article, University of Johannesburg political instructor Bongani Ngqulunga and Nelson Mandela University historian Nomalanga Mkhize are quoted saying the song is not sung to incite violence against the predominant whites in the country but to mobilize support to stand against apartheid and discrimination of black people in the country.
Musk slammed the outlet and accused them of supporting calls for genocide. EFF leader Julius Malema, who led the chant in the video, defended it in a press conference and said Musk resembled an illiterate. He also claimed that the “only thing that protects him is his white skin.”
John Steenhuisen, the of the Democratic Alliance (who is white), announced that his party would be filing charges against both the Economic Freedom Fighters leader, Julius Malema, and the ruling African National Congress government. He said the charges would be filed at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
“The DA recently forced the South African government to live up to its international responsibility to comply with warrants issued by the International Criminal Court. We will now do the same to force it to act against Malema,“ Steenhuisen said.