DUBUL’ IBHUNU was exhibited at the 2011 Basel Art Fair as well as at the exhibition SWAT at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg. The work looks to recent farm murders in rural South Africa and the subsequent storm of protest and litigation around the public singing of a pre apartheid struggle song ‘Ayasab' amagwala (The cowards are scared). See the words of the song in full below. The song is better known by the phrase Dubul’ iBhunu (‘kill the boer’).. This line, when sung publicly by ANC Youth League leadership, has evoked much protest in the light of more than 4 000 murders of white farmers all over the country in recent years. The song was historically sung in protest against the expropriation of land by the white minority regime of apartheid, before South Africa’s first inclusive democratic elections of 1994.
Since the demise of statutory apartheid, many variants of this song have continued to be sung. Some have raised questions about the appropriateness of singing struggle songs post-apartheid. Others claim that these songs are part of ‘Struggle heritage’. The debate recently gained momentum when a South African court interdicted the controversial ANC Youth leader, Julius Malema, from singing Dubul’ iBhunu in public. Both the ANC Youth League and the ANC government defended Malema. The legal battle continues, referring to issues of freedom of speech within South Africa’s post-apartheid liberal democracy as enshrined by the South African constitution endorsed in 1996 by former president Nelson Mandela. Fuel was added to the fire when rock star Bono performed the song during U2’s 2011 South African tour.
Ibhunu is a vernacularisation of the Afrikaans word boer (farmer), but in black South Africa the word is a pejorative slur against white people. The singing of Dubul’ iBhunu is often accompanied by toyi-toying (the toyi-toyi is a taunting kind of protest dance).
DUBUL’ IBHUNU consists of a paper collage with text reflecting the names of approximately 1 000 murdered farmers (out of a total of more than 4,000 committed in South Africa between 2000 to 2011). The names of people murdered have been recorded verbatim from websites located on the internet. Sharp pieces of Imbuia wood cut into the writing, slicing into the names.
For Willem Boshoff, it is an outrage that these deaths are not a priority for the government, which he believes fears that it may lose votes if it is seen to be supporting white victims. DUBUL’ IBHUNU openly defies the taboo against publicly speaking out about crime in South Africa.