Burna Boy, xenophobia and Africa: How did we get here?

19 November 2019 - 05:15
By Unathi Nkanjeni
Burna Boy's inclusion in the line-up for a concert in South Africa next weekend has tweeters locked in hot debate.
Image: Instagram Burna Boy's inclusion in the line-up for a concert in South Africa next weekend has tweeters locked in hot debate.

Chats about cancelling Burna Boy on social media have been a hot topic lately following  the Nigerian rapper's response to calls for him to apologise for comments he made about xenophobia "being real" in SA.

Here is a timeline of how things got this far.

Middle fingers and threats

It started back in September when Burna Boy spoke out about  xenophobia, urging black foreigners living in SA to defend and protect themselves against the attackers.

In a now-deleted tweet, he also told rapper AKA to beef up his security, before giving him the middle finger.

He promised to never set foot in SA again until the government “wakes the f*ck up and really performs a miracle”.

Coming to Mzansi

Two months after promising to never set foot in SA again and threatening AKA, it was reported that the On The Low hitmaker was coming to Mzansi to perform at the Africa Unite concert on November 24.

Wasting no time, AKA challenged Burna Boy to “pull up” on him

“I would love to attend this show and watch this man put his hands on me in my own country,” he said.

Africa Unit boycott 

A month after the announcement was made, local musicians and event organisers objected to Burna Boy's inclusion at an anti-xenophobic concert, claiming the star “incited hatred with his comments”. 

In an open letter to the department of sports, arts and culture, musicians and event organisers, under the umbrella of Tshwane Entertainment Collective, called for the department to pull its sponsorship of the event.

This after ticket listings and promotional material for the event claimed the concert was sponsored by the department.

Department distances itself

In response to the open letter, the department distanced itself from the concert, saying  its logo had been used “erroneously” on posters advertising the event.

“The department of sports, arts and culture wishes to dispel the untrue information currently being spread on social media that it is funding the Africans Unite Concert featuring the artist known as Burna Boy.

“It is unfortunate that the department's logo was erroneously used on the poster advertising the event,” spokesperson Asanda Magaqa told TshisaLIVE.

Asanda said the department had not allocated or granted funding for the event.

AKA calls a truce

Trying to calm things down, AKA called a truce. Earlier this month, he took to Twitter to ask Burna Boy to apologise.

AKA said SA took Burna Boy in “before he reached these levels”, and challenged him to prove he is an “African giant” by apologising.

“All we want is an apology. We know SA is not perfect, but we took you in as our own before you reached these levels. You say you are an African giant, prove it,” said AKA. 

AKA added that he was willing to swallow his pride, and asked if Burna Boy was willing to do the same.

Malema chimes in 

EFF leader Julius Malema pledged his support for Burna Boy, saying no mascot can stop him from performing in SA.

Malema also implied that SA was his home.

“We must resolutely oppose regionalism led by political illiterates,” he said.

“South Africa is a home for all Africans. Kill me for defending an African brother, bloody cowards.”

No apology from the Boy

Refusing to apologise, over the weekend Burna Boy made it clear he was coming, despite the backlash.

In a series of tweets, he thanked Malema, saying he looks forward to meeting him.

Burna Boy also rubbished claims that he had misled people about the xenophobic attacks.

He said xenophobia was real in SA and that being South African doesn't make one more important than any other African.