Brenda Fassie's Strange Taylor Song of Praise

The Perspective
Jan 31, 2001

South African award winning musician Brenda Fassie, in Liberia for public performances and to sing on President Charles Taylor's 4th wedding anniversary, is reported to have paid tribute to the warlord turned president for the manner in which he is taking care of people. Reportedly informing Taylor that she does not believe the written word about his monstrosities, Ms. Fassie, pouring lavish praises on the Liberian dictator, said that she was elated to be in his company. We are disappointed that a black South African, an icon of man's inhumanity against man, could take such a position on our continuing horrors.

We are bitterly dismayed that an African who continues to carry the burdens of racism and oppression in a South Africa still kicking and yelling against justice and racial equality can see honor in a man who continues to reduce his people and those of neighboring countries to rubbles in the name of power and personal wealth. That a person like Ms. Fassie can so boldly applaud a man on whose neck the souls of 250,000 dead people hang demanding justice tells us something strange in the African, and that is a callous disregard for justice and righteousness. Any wonder why the continent is in continuous anarchy.

But we must remind Ms. Fassie that condemning injustices committed by the Boer Afrikaners and applauding them when committed by a black skin is unfortunate, unprincipled and grossly hypocritical.

We believe that Ms. Fassie's remarks are a painful betrayal of heroes like Chris Hannie, Steve Biko and many other South Africans who gave their life in the struggle against injustice. Nevertheless, we are quite aware of the African's dilemma---refusing to see injustices when personal wishes and interests prevail and clapping for thieves and mass murderers when need be. Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, etc., all remind us of the ambiguities of Africa when the rest of the world demanded justice and nothing but justice.

Even as evidence abounds on Taylor's marathon crimes against his own people and neighbours, there is a sad reluctance for Africa to unite behind conscience, morality and honour in stopping this serial mass murderer, as we see in the position of some African states on UN sanctions against Liberia for its violent meddling in the affairs of neighbouring states. Ms. Fassie has just joined those criminal African politicians who believe that amputation of children limbs for diamonds, lying to the world about such gruesome crimes, is a fine example of African nationalism.

We do not know what Ms. Fassie motives are in hailing injustice as justice. What we do know is that criminal South Africans, high priests of the Apartheid era, men and women from its notorious Defense Forces, have been at the helm of seeing Liberia and Sierra Leone die for diamonds. They have trained ruthless rebels to maim and butcher innocent people and wipe out our towns and villages, not to mention economic structures. They have ensured for us with a bleak future in this increasingly difficult and competitive world. These South Africans are at the forefront of transforming West Africa into one giant refugee camp. Ms. Fassie, by her reported remarks, has just joined them in words, which is at times more devastating than joining in the commission of heinous acts.

Perhaps Fassie's strange songs of praise for men who wage unmitigated terror on their people and others reflect her life preferences. Perhaps some South Africans are impressed with Taylor's new history lessons of how Liberia helped South Africa in time of need and therefore now asking South Africans to help erase Liberia from the face of the earth. But the Liberia of 60s is partially different from today's Liberia. The Liberia that gave Nelson money to facilitate his travels against Apartheid was the same Liberia that was sending its citizens to Fernando Po as slaves, causing the League of Nations to intervene and attempt taking over this crude West African state. It was the same Liberia that rejected universal suffrage for its majority population. In essence, just as whites were practising Apartheid in South Africa against blacks, blacks were perfecting another form of Apartheid on blacks in this West African enclave.

We urge Ms. Fassie to sing and sing louder for Mr. Taylor. That is her right. But her strange songs in honour of injustice should be a disappointment for an honourable artist, particularly one who is a product of the most savage forms of injustice.

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