Local musicians are planning to petition the National Arts Council of Zambia (NAC) over the planned concerts next month by controversial Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr who has been accused in his home country of promoting racism.
The planned concerts next month in Lusaka and Kitwe and a cameo appearance in Mufulira have caused a huge storm on social media with some saying anyone who knows what Hofmeyr stands for cannot even make the mistake of going to his shows.
Hofmeyr has given statements of an apartheid denialist, which has led many to label him as a “disgrace to South Africa”.
Last year, he wrote and published a tweet stating that he believed that black South Africans were the “architects of apartheid” on his public Twitter account.
This prompted a significant public backlash with one of his major critics being puppeteer Conrad Koch and his puppet Chester Missing, who launched a campaign to stop sponsoring him.
He tried to get a protection order against Koch and his puppet in a magistrate’s court but failed.
But local musicians here feel that a person who is being boycotted in his home country should never be given a platform here.
“We want to inform you that we intend to petition against the performance of Steve Hofmeyr in Zambia. This man is a known racist and should never be given a platform,” one of the organisers of the petition says.
However, Brian Shakarongo believes that a petition may not necessary be needed.
“All we need is to voice out our concerns as artistes or musicians so that the organisations that are responsible for bringing him here are aware of who he is and what he stands for and how sponsors and organisers of music events in his own homeland are distancing themselves from him while some are cancelling sponsorship,” he says.
“It’s also a wake-up call for our Government and both the National Arts Council and Zambia Association of Musicians, if at all the latter still exists, to be alert and aware of such people with racial overtones in their speeches and not grant them permission and clearance to perform in this country.”
Shakarongo says racism is being fought everywhere including in sport and as such they expect the arts associations to be abreast with what is happening internationally.
“Besides, I wonder how many of our artistes even know about this musician and his utterances, so we need a lot of time to ‘school’ them, and from past experience, the majority of artistes especially musicians are afraid of calling a spade a spade, hence a petition is not workable,” he says.
Hofmeyr is expected to perform at the Hellenic Association of Zambia in Makeni, Lusaka and at Kitwe Playing Fields.
However, it is understood that NAC is yet to give a permit for the shows.