Mbongeni Ngema: poet, artist, racist

The racist slur in poet Mbongeni Ngema’s controversial song, AmaNdiya (Indians), was inflammatory and unwarranted, the SA Jewish Board Of Deputies said on Thursday.

Chairman Russell Gaddin said in a statement that blanket accusations against an entire community, whether racial, ethnic or religious, could never be justified.

“Such uncalled-for attacks on any sector of the population go completely against the spirit of reconciliation, non-racism and nation-building to which all decent South Africans are committed”

he said.

The SA Human Rights Commission has received several objections against the song, and announced on Wednesday it would lodge an official complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

Former president Nelson Mandela also appealed to Ngema to apologise.

Ngema told the SABC this week the song tried to address the fundamental problems between blacks and Indians, rather than creating confrontation.

“The song is intended to begin a public debate on the issue (as the opening line of the song says) and not to cause racial hatred,” Ngema said.

The lyrics of the song are: “Oh brothers, Oh my fellow brothers.
We need strong and brave men to confront Indians. This situation is very difficult, Indians do not want to change, whites were far better than Indians. Even Mandela has failed to convince them to change.”

They also “keep coming from India” to South Africa, the song says.

Ngema said the views of black people who gathered at taxi ranks and bus stops, at shebeens, soccer matches and “many other places” were expressed in the song.

“I believe it is my role as an artist… to mirror the society and highlight the plight of the people on the ground. The leadership relies on us artists to voice out issues where there is perceived oversight.” - Sapa

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