EFF calls for removal of Die Stem from national anthem

Land must be redistributed, apartheid and colonial symbols must fall and Die Stem should be removed from the national anthem for Heritage Day to become more meaningful in the country.

This was according to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), as South Africans marked Heritage Day on Thursday.

“If South African heritage is to be given any dignity, land must be redistributed and all colonial and apartheid symbols must fall,” said EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi in a statement.

In addition,  “the EFF calls on the elimination of Die Stem from the national anthem. Die Stem is a heritage of oppression and indignity”, said Ndlozi.

“It is a song of oppressors, racists and mass murderers. Nkosi Sikelel’ must be sung in the same way as our people did when they were praying for a land free from oppression during colonial and apartheid years.

“National anthems are songs of collective pride and we cannot be proud of the songs of mass murderous regimes.”

The party’s call for the removal of all colonial and apartheid symbols targeted “in particular the statues of Louis Botha and Queen Victoria in Parliament”, said Ndlozi.

But also the Kruger National Park should be given a new name: “The … [park] as a heritage and international destination for tourism must be renamed because Kruger was a colonial racist who engineered and presided over the Boer Republic that was a foundation for apartheid systems.

“There must be no public celebration and valuation of racists who presided over the oppression and mass murder of the black majority.”

Land redistribution
Ndlozi added that the party condemned the celebration of Heritage Day “without resolution of the land question”.

“Only the expropriation of land without compensation for equal redistribution will give our people dignity and guarantee their freedom into the future, in particular, cultural and artistic freedoms.”

What the EFF celebrated the most on Heritage Day was the “artistic spirit” of South African people. Ndlozi said: “It is in the fields of our musical, artistic and language expressions that we know colonialism has failed to completely crush the African spirit.

“Here, we have always found a way to testify that colonialism did not create everything good about Africa and its people.” 

Meanwhile, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the government’s official Heritage Day event in Ramokgopa Stadium, Mokomene, Limpopo. Thousands of locals turned out in their traditional attire for the event. Ramaphosa decried deaths and botched circumcisions that now marred initiation schools, which he said were important for communities.

“Here young men and women are taught important skills to look after families, to adjudicate when there are problems and to conduct themselves as respectable adults within communities. Yet we are confronted by a new challenge – young men who die during initiation and others who are maimed as a result of botched circumcisions.”

“All initiation schools need to be sanctioned by community leaders and must meet health requirements. Those who want to oversee the circumcision practice must be commissioned by the community before opening an initiation school.

“We can use initiation schools to teach young people about acceptable sexual behavior and the prevention of HIV transmission. They have a role to play in discouraging young people from following a life of crime, violence and alcohol and drug abuse. These must be cultural schools that reaffirm positive social values.”

New heritage
Speaking in Pretoria, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane spoke about the need for “forging a new heritage” in the country. Looking beyond race and the country’s apartheid and colonial past were key ingredients for this, Maimane stressed.

“We won’t achieve this by remaining divided and mistrusting. We won’t achieve this by driving wedges between groups of people for cheap political gain. We won’t achieve this by focusing on all the things that separate us from each other,” he said.

“South Africa still remains painfully unequal on the basis of race. If you are black you are generally poor and if white, still wealthy. I can’t live with that, but I also can’t live with those who take the cause for equality and turn it into a race war. 

“The effects of our painful past are still with us but they can’t hold us back anymore from building a better tomorrow.”

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Bongani Nkosi
Bongani is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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