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A debate took place with great intensity following MusikMag Afrika’s opinion piece that attempted to honestly analyse Eddie Zondi’s supposed legacy and or contribution to South Africa’s culture.

Sadly though the insightful exchange of these opinions has happened away from the general public eye and ear. It is unfortunate owing to a lost opportunity to gain increased endorsement, public support and have more views heard on the subject of the promotions of local music. While the debate was most welcomed; creative sector captains and practitioners need to graduate from preaching to the long converted to engaging openly with the general public. (Please read the feature analysis titled Whispers In The Closest)

In an effort to encourage breaking out of the barricades we took the liberty to compile and share some of the riveting stuff and insights that has been exchanged among a group of people with similar interests.

Here we go.

“I bled almost to death when I saw TV clips of SABC news bulletins with comments of the Ministers of Arts and Culture and Water & Sanitation at Eddie Zondi’s burial,’ wrote Oupa Salemane, Chief Executive Officer at the Jazz Foundation. “How embarrassed I was to note their political immaturity and Eurocentric cultural bias. It is clear that our mission to raise quotas on SABC will never be achieved with them at the helm, ’cause it does not serve their interest. Whilst the passing of Eddie Zondi at such a young age is regrettable, it offers an opportunity to recreate and redesign his programme so that our local musicians can be showcased. Your caption “What kind of Legacy did Eddie Zondi leave?” is appropriate and can be equated to “What have You contributed to society in Your lifetime to change the world positively”. If we all can check our utterances and actions, we can change the world.

Eugene Mthemthwa, acting secretary  of the Creative Workers Union of South Africa, pointed out what he regards as “Post Modern Cultural Colonization” which is characterized by the flooding of local stages with foreign artists that are booked at high costs whilst local artists are dying poor (ed note or perhaps left with no choice but to nibble on crumbs).

“It is sad though to see that musicians themselves do not embrace the debate, as usual. Their passiveness to such important matters is what constantly derails us from making inroads,” said Mthethwa.

“How I so wish the sector, individuals, artists, organisations, AIRCO, SAMPA, CWUSA, SAMRO, CASA, …everybody in the sector – could simply demand the immediate, urgent and prioritized implementation of the CRC (Copyright Review Commission) recommendations that were adopted by Cabinet,” intervened Mhlanganisi Masoga, Director: Creative Industries – the DTI.

Masoga directed attention to some of the recommendations, which include the call for local content for public, private and community radio stations to be 80%, 50% and 80% respectively. An interdepartmental committee at the level of Directors- General or Deputy-Directors General had to be appointed with a view of implementing the recommendations of commission. Also according to the recommendations, ICASA should include as a condition in the broadcasters ‘licences that compliance with needle time and copyright obligations is compulsory and that a repeated failure by broadcasters to comply should lead to cancellation of their licences. (Ed note; compliance with the local quota should also be prioritized or insisted upon -with the revoking of licence punishment if not complied with.)

“I’m disturbed by the fact that we the general public, government and media have less faith in our arts, especially, music and spoken word. We host national/international festivals and still insist on featuring international musicians as headline acts (I’m personally guilty of this). Government follows suit, same as promoters, to encourage commercial festivals/shows headlined by international acts with some having past their ‘sell by date’. I strongly believe that our music production & standards are rich; competitive; and worth every cent/rand to get a nod. Its about time we do something,” Reggy Zikalala creative industry entrepreneur and activist.

“The battle of “local music, arts and culture” support and promotion is in fact African, not merely South African,’ says Saki Dumakude an entrepreneur in the engineering sector and staunch supporter of African music.  “The rise and dominance of Congolese music (Rumba Congolaise, Kwassa Kwassa, N’Dombolo, et al) was not by coincidence, but was designed by the late President Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga, who banned “foreign” (Euro-American) music in the then Zaire, during his 30yrs in power.  His actions then opened the platform for local Congolese and other African Countries, music to be recorded, performed, sold, and even danced to! Our local music accounts for less than 2 – 5% or an insignificant portion in Europe and the US.  Billions of ZAR “royalties” leave our economy to the US and Europe annually, yet we are an emerging economy.  Clearly, we have our priorities crossed he wrong way!”

Dumakude was not done, true to his surname he wished for his voice and that of African music to thunder far and wide.

“Let us also be good local African music ambassadors, by ensuring that we only play local music in cars, office parties, homes, and social gatherings.   Most African countries (DRC, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mali, et al) play over 90% African music at their main airports and even airlines.   The apartheid government banned all “radical” local music, and promoted Euro-American music through Springbok Radio, Radio Port Natal, and others. (ED’s note: is the present government deliberately allowing that continuation?)

It is now the time for our 20yr old Black RSA govt to apply the local content radio & TV quotas as stated by Mhlanganisi’s earlier e-mail”

“You couldn’t have said it better than that, Amandla !” is all Peter Tladi, CEO at T.Musicman could say when responding to Dumakude’s comments.

Graeme Gilfillan’s input was more extensive and contained facts that should shake South Africa from its self-induced (perhaps deliberately) deep slumber and be a catalyst urgent action.

“No better way than through the lens of UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) and their tracking of trade realities to put Mnumzane Dumakude’s comments into chilling context,” Gillfilan began his warm up before analyzing and tabling what he terms ‘creative licensing’ or rather ‘copyright royalty flows.’

“For 12 of the last 20 years of South Africa’s democracy South Africa has (formally) gorged on copyright (mostly culture) whose origin and creation is not South African to the point of extending a US$200 million plus import deficit in 2000.To place Mnumzane Dumakude’s comment “Billions of ZAR ‘royalties” leave our economy…’ in context the facts advise that in 2012 alone R20 billion plus left the South African economy, excluding software, and a large proportion can be attributed to music in one way or another. South Africa’s Trade and Industry policy outcome as far as creative licenses are concerned over a 12 year-period show that imports of foreign creative license have grown more than ten fold, exports are flat and the deficit of R2.1 billion looks set to grow.Whilst all other African countries have reduced their creative license imports, South Africa has gone on a veritable spree.”

Oga! Gilfillan never talk and write finish. He had more.

“The consumption of culture in South Africa, under the guise of democracy has not served South Africa’s cultural and economic identity as well as interests well; it has served the interest of others.The issue of quotas is simple – every second of any foreign work on radio or television costs South Africa in US$. With such monies leaving the country and having little to no role in local development economy, South Africa cannot as a country afford to play much of such on radio and TV right now. There is nothing to debate. We are obliged in good and clear conscience to look to the lives, dreams, ambitions and careers of those South Africans who create in South Africa, in the main and whose rights and works are domiciled in South Africa and drop, by law or edict of necessary, foreign works on the airwaves to 15-20% maximum for a period of at least 5 years minimum. A focused intervention”

Then he went for the jaw.

“We need to remove US, Anglo and Euro culture obsessed so-called presenters from national airwaves who embarrass the country daily with their sycophantic homage and rants to such foreign cultures exhorting the populace to embrace such along with plantation mentalities to the exclusion of 200 plus other countries across the world. Joh!!!! what’s up with that? The CRC cannot and has not been implemented because it was corrupted at the outset…in fact long before it began. Its veracity and integrity cannot withstand scrutiny. It is no different than other reports that have not been implemented before it, same shit, different time same place.”

 Why do two foreign multi-nationals (recording companies) with not a single local or black share between them control 75% of the top 100 (songs) across all radio in South Africa?

Vukani MaAfrica…Vukani! This does not have to continue.”

 Just Love it, can we please have more of these  enlightening debates.

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