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'Bloody agent': In South Africa, race-tinged remixes go viral

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(Read caption) African National Congress youth league leader Julius Malema points at a BBC television journalist Jonah Fisher in this image taken from TV at a press conference in Johannesburg South Africa last month.

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What is it about South Africa?

A young politician loses his temper in a press conference, in front of dozens of reporters, and within a matter of hours, his tirade is turned into an underground dance remix.

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And from there, it went viral on the Internet.

Julius Malema, of course, is the politician, a man whom Time Magazine this week listed as one of the world’s “least influential people.” Mr. Malema, you mqy recall ejected a BBC reporter, Jonah Fisher, from a press conference last month, calling him a “bloody agent,” and accusing him of having a “white tendency.”

It was a phrase that captured the public imagination, and that proved to be rather danceable.

Soon, an anonymous music producer had created a dance song, with snippets of Malema’s meltdown providing the lyrics. The hit focuses on Malema’s strange taunt: “bloody agent.”

What kind of agent? One wonders. Real estate? Hollywood? Or has Mr. Malema been reading a bit too much John Le Carré recently?

Never mind, just as long as he says it to the beat. (It's quite catchy.)

Within days, another Malema-inspired song came out, produced by Capricorn FM radio’s Ashifa Breakfast Show. This time the song was called Tjatjarag, (pronounced Cha-cha-ra-ch) which means to be overly excited and slightly annoying. This song reflected a much more militant and pro-Malema tone. The refrain cheers Julius "Ju-Ju" Malema on, somewhat chillingly: “Chase them, chase them, chase them Ju-Ju, chase them.”

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Issues of race are not easily dealt with, of course. But in South Africa, some get down to dealing with a touchy issue of race by, well, getting down.

Consider this “Don’t touch me on my studio” video snippet from a recently recorded E-News Channel talk show.

The statement was uttered by show host Chris Maroleng toward a guest who had turned abusive. But the fact that Maroleng is black, and that the abusive guest was the general secretary of a white-separatist party, founded by the recently murdered politician Eugene Terreblanche, made the snippet a sensation.

Like Malema’s outburst, Maroleng’s very cool challenge made for some amusing Internet remixes.

The website aims to keep track of them all. And, make a buck: it's advertising the "Don't touch me on my studio" underwear for sale.

Perhaps the kids are right about handling racial abuse. Better, after all, to laugh – and dance – than cry.


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