South Africa: Public radio bans Zulu hit song

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South Africa:
Public radio station bans Zulu hit song

The title track from the South African album ‘Msholozi’ by Izingane Zoma has been banned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation on the grounds that it is regarded to be “too political”

A trio of traditional Zulu singers has hit the big time and ignited controversy with a tribute to former South African deputy president Jacob Zuma, who has been charged with rape in a politically divisive case.

Singing group Izingane Zoma have sold 50,000 copies of their album ‘Msholozi’ – Zuma’s clan name – as South Africans snap up a CD with lyrics saying the people want Zuma as their next leader, but the government is keeping him from power. The album also calls for charges against the popular politician to be dropped.


Off air

The South African Broadcasting Corporation, SABC, removed the title track from the playlist of its Zulu-language Ukhozi FM radio station for fear it could be read as “incitement”, drawing accusations of anti-Zuma bias from Zuma allies.

On 6 February 2006, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Cosatu, sent a letter to the broadcasting corporation stating that they were shocked about the censorship imposed on the song. “We can not justify the payment of TV licences, if such institutions (as SABC, ed.) are to be used as private tools for political campaigns and factional agendas”, writes Cosatu. 

Jacob Zuma’s comment
Jacob Zuma’s comment to the news that the title song about him had been censored was:

“There is nothing extraordinary (about the song). They are musicians and they just composed a song. I think the SABC was wrong (in banning it). We can’t come from apartheid, where everything was banned, and then not be able to express ourselves in a democratic country. It just reminds me of where we come from. The SABC gets into politics in a wrong way. They must play the song. People love the song,” said the 63-year-old ex-deputy president in an interview with the Sowetan.


Increased attention

The controversy also has ignited sales and prompted other radio stations to play the track, which would normally be dismissed as too folksy for urban listeners. Kaya FM station in Johannesburg, which rarely features traditional music, played ‘Msholozi’ after holding a poll in which more than 70 percent of respondents said the song should get airtime, according to programming manager Neil Johnson.

About Izingane Zoma
The trio Izingane Zoma consists of three Zulu women and is one of the biggest names in South Africa’s traditional maskandi music scene, enjoying popularity in rural areas of the country.

“Our song is not political, we just write about what is happening and what people think,” said Linda Sabelo at Izingane Zoma Music Promotions to News24.com: “We are not controlled when it comes to our music.”


Click to listen to 'Msholozi'
Izingane Zoma’s latest album, ‘Msholozi’



Jacob Zuma,
also known as Msholozi



Izingane Zoma

Audio:

Listen to the banned song at OneWorld.co.za:
Msholozi (excerpt in MP3-format)

Information about the CD album on OneWorld.co.za:  

Msholozi
      Click to listen to 'Msholozi'


Sources:

The Sowetan – 24 March 2006:
‘I’m like Christ: Zuma regrets not becoming a lawyer’

News24.com – 16 February 2006:

‘Zuma songbirds ruffle feathers’

Cosatu.org.za – 6 February 2006:

‘The banning of “Pro zuma” by the so called public broadcaster’

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