If the EFF chose light, they could assist in banishing darkness

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By Howard Feldman, Synthesis

God started it.  God was one of the first that we know of who used His words for good. Pretty much right in the beginning of the whole book of Genesis we are told that He said: “Let there be light.” And indeed, there was.  Light. Words were used to create the world. Which means that they have immense power, not only to build, but also to break.

Magicians know this too. The well-known phrase uttered by anyone who knows anything is “Abra Cadabra”, which comes from Aramaic. “Abra” is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew “avra” meaning “I will create”, while “cadabra” is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew ‘kedoobar,’ meaning ‘as was spoken. In essence, it means “It will be as I have spoken it.” Because words have power, they can be magical.

Or the opposite.

This weekend the Economic Freedom celebrated their 10th anniversary at the FNB Stadium. It was at the end of his speech on Saturday when EFF leader Julius Malema chose to once again sing the “kill the boer” lyrics chant. A chant that has become a subject of some controversy and has been the subject of a court case about the “dubul’ibhunu” struggle song. Although the court in a bizarre decision found that chanting “Kill the boer” is not hate speech, the phrase continues to be one that causes pain and concern.

The fact that Afriforum has appealed the decision of the court and that it will be heard again in September, is immaterial, because no matter what the court finds this time around, the phrase is an ugly and divisive one.  No court ruling can change that.

History – and God – agrees with me. In a 2016 article, the BBC reported on the extradition of Leon Mugesera, a former politician who described Tutsis as “cockroaches” and called for their extermination. He made an incendiary speech against the Tutsi minority in 1992. As a result, Mugesera was jailed for life in Rwanda over the 1994 genocide in which some 800 000 people died.

The Nazi war machine understood this as well. From early in the 1930s, Jews were depicted as vermin. They were portrayed as dirty scavengers who could not be trusted and who ultimately would need to be eliminated. What followed, was the creation of an efficient propaganda campaign of death that was designed to make the extermination of Jews as pests perceived as “logical” and reasonable. The result was the murder of six million Jews.

What starts with words, very rarely ends with words.

This is especially true when they come from a person of immense political power like Julius Malema and when disseminated to a large group whose individuality have been removed by making them dress the same, who are made to feel disenfranchised and who are looking for an identifiable object to place their anger.

Even aside from the fact that farm-murders specifically, along with the general murder rate, armed robberies and rape are unacceptably high in South Africa, the phrase “Kill the boer” becomes even more dangerous and irresponsible.

The EFF is aware of this. They have long employed strategies of shock and intimidation and have utilised language that embraces “war” and “struggle”. They have relied on the media to create the hype that follows and have rarely been censured for it. In essence, they have seen the reward for this marketing strategy. This is likely to mean that they will continue to exploit these elements.

This is a pity, because the alternative would be so more powerful and would achieve so much more. If instead of using their words to create darkness and fear, they could assist in creating a country of light and hope. Instead of breaking people down by finding groups to blame, they could build an environment where everyone could succeed.

In short, if the EFF chose light, they could assist in banishing darkness. And bring a bit of God into the world.

Believe it or not.