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This opinion piece is by Gerhard Papenfus, Chief Executive of the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA)

Without condoning the remarks by Penny Sparrow, she's actually done this nation a huge favour. Depending on your background and where you find yourself, you may also think that in various areas of society our nation is in severe trouble. Penny's remarks have set a process in motion which has shown us where we stand in the area of race relations, South Arica's ''Achilles heel''.

There is merit in not leaving the remarks made by Penny and those who (understandably) responded viciously, unchallenged. However, prosecuting her, and the others, will at most only succeed in concealing South Africa's most threatening disease - racism. It's like refraining from breaking the uncomfortable news to a patient suffering from aggressive cancer.

How can we expect people not to be racist? During apartheid 'race' defined us. 'Race' still defines us. It controls every aspect of our society. We're obsessed with it, but apparently that's acceptable, as long as we don't say the wrong things in public.

Since the criminal charges have been laid and complaints lodged, social media has gone somewhat quiet on this issue. However, the underlying anger, from the various perspectives, whether justified or not, continues to build up steam. The charges and complaints against those who made all sorts of remarks, only serves to put the lid on the steam cooker, but it’s doing nothing to reduce the ever increasing pressure.

Calls are being made to criminalise racism. To do that, we will have to seriously jack up our criminal justice system and build a prison which can contain at least 50 million people. Or will only those who say the wrong things be prosecuted, leaving the underlying attitude, which is plaguing this nation, unchallenged. Is there anyone who can honestly say that, as far as this cancer is concerned, he/she is 'without sin?’ Unless healing as a nation is achieved, South Africa will be one big prison.

The sooner it is realised how sick the nation is, the better; it is the symptoms, including racial remarks, that indicates the nation’s feverish temperature regarding racism. However, since we don't like what we hear, we want to silence the messengers.

On many occasions I've made myself guilty of racial intolerance. I've become wiser, I've grown in this area, but I'm not 'there' yet.  I can honestly say that I love all South Africans, that I love South Africa for its diversity - the very thing that's causing tension. However, it doesn't take much to expose dark areas in my heart, something which doesn't creep out unless I'm under pressure, when things don't go the way I like it, when I feel insecure.

I haven't met Penny, but there is at least one similarity between us: by way of historical events and government classification (past and present) we are, broadly speaking, of the same race. Because of what she said people want to kill her, murder her; not only her, but also all those of the same race, so-called ‘whites’. That, off of course, includes me. But I honestly don't mind people threatening to kill me. To go so far as to desire to commit a murder, to set in motion mass murder (genocide), must be the result of unbearable bitterness and anger. I wish I can meet my murderer, for the sake of his/her healing, and mine.

It is time that the racists meet and talk. It has to be honest, unfiltered and uncensored. It's better than not talking at all, even if it gets messy. Reconciliation can only take place once that which is needed to be said, is actually said, regardless of what it is. That's where reconciliation, forgiveness and healing begin. It is not for the over sensitive and fainthearted.

South Africa needs this true fundamental healing. In the absence of this every aspect of our society is prejudiced. Our economy is not growing because of the lack of confidence, and racism is at the root of this uncertainty. 

It is the cancer of our nation, and nobody is without guilt. And even if you are an unlikely exception, it is still your problem. This is the biggest challenge facing us as a nation, and there's no way out, there’s just no alternative: get this right or perish. 

For more information contact: Annika van Heerden -

“The way to Succeed and the way to suck eggs...” - An observational view of the South African Metal scene - By Morné Linell (Photo by The Rockfinder)

I have been paying live music for approximately 12 years prior to starting a band I supported the scene, going to go watch bands like Groinchurn, VOD, ect., I have endeavoured to remove myself from the “politics” of the scene as I have found that it is just a distraction from the end goal, to enjoy playing metal live.

Having said this though, I feel I need to voice my opinion, not that I expect to change anything, but I feel it would be cathartic, and is that not the point of having the internet, the proverbial soap box.

From personal experience I have noticed a recurring trend in our scene, hard work and determination will not get you anywhere, dedication even less so. If you want to be successful, you have to be able to swallow. Now I know that is crude and perhaps harsh of me, but this is my rant and I will phrase it however I want. In the band I play for now we have 1 simple rule, we will not get on a stage with the ‘’taste of dick in our mouths’’..... In retrospect it was perhaps a little naive, I mean we still only play to 10 people after all these years.

Now please do not misunderstand me, I am not blaming the more “successful” bands, I am not even pissed at the promoters or the club owners......I am pissed off at the apathy that we all have towards our scene.....I am pissed off at our fundamental flaws as human beings... Allow me to elaborate....”

We all support the cool bands, because it’s cool to support them, and I dare not stray from the pack, I will not form my own opinion... I will not go to a show where it’s all “underground/unknown” bands, as inherently, they all suck...” That is my first bug bear, the second one is the mere fact that we as humans can’t help ourselves, we have to compartmentalise all aspects of our lives, i.e. we can’t just be united under the banner of SA metal, no, we have to have the hardcore scene, the death metal scene, the black metal scene,  the new school vs. the old school scene where you are not allowed to just enjoy has resulted in an already tiny scene being so fragmented that I honestly feel there is no hope.

Having said all this, I realise that it may appear like a case of sour grapes, and to a certain degree I concede it may well be. But I know this will not change anything and you know what? I am finding it very difficult to care either way.

Goodbye, good luck and thanks for all the fish!!!!!

Keep it metal \m/


- Article contributed by Chrissanne Cuppusamy 

I was always a quiet, smart girl, respected by my peers, revered by my teachers and praised by my parents. One day, I decided to colour my hair blue. I also started spending my weekly allowance on an extensive collection of band merchandise and music that my parents, let alone my neighbours, did not approve of. Yes, I had evolved into a metal head.

Many may ask the question, “Why is society afraid to embrace the idea of a metal – loving younger generation?” The answer to that question is in the question itself. In a society where people have been dressing a certain way, speaking a certain way and behaving a certain way for as long as they can remember, people are afraid to reject conformity. 

When beliefs such as religion or culture are confronted, they are left with no guiding system that allows for change. Anything that does not identify with the ‘norms of society’ is seen as taboo within the community, and is instantly chastised.

So what are the common misconceptions about the rock/metal genre of music?

There is a massive misconception that rock/metal musicians discourage education. Getting a college degree is an accomplishment for everyone, and is what most parents expect from their kids these days. If you’re a world – famous rock star, touring, writing and recording new music eventually impedes any academic aspirations. However, the following musicians earned their degrees either before rocking into the limelight, or returned to university after a few years on the road.

• Greg Graffin, lead singer and songwriter of the influential band Bad Religion, completed his double major undergraduate degree in Geology and Anthropology, and his master’s in Geology at University of California, Los Angeles. He then went on to earn his PhD in Zoology at Cornell University.

• Tom Morello, guitarist for Rage Against The Machine, attended Harvard University where he completed his undergraduate Political Science curriculum with honours.

• Brian May, guitarist and vocalist for the band Queen has a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College. He was also named chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University.

• The Doors vocalist Jim Morrison is considered to be one of the greatest frontmen in rock history. Morrison was known as a notorious party animal, yet he not only went to college but graduated with a degree in film from University of California, Los Angeles.

• Michael “Duff” McKagan, hard partying, hard rocking bassist for Guns N’ Roses achieved a bachelor’s degree in Business from Seattle University.

• Brian Hugh Warner, better known by his stage name Marilyn Manson, studied journalism at Broward Community College.

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about heavy metal music is that heavy metal music is deeply rooted in Satanism. But in truth, what most people do not realise is that a true Satanist would not go around brandishing the fact that he or she is Satanic.

Most real metal heads are people that respect other’s freedom of expression and their freedom to believe in what they choose to believe, but also understand the value of visual imagery in music. It may shock many critics, but there are many rock stars out there who take religion quite seriously.

• Slayer is a thrash metal band that has lyrics that are widely interpreted as Satanic, and anti-God, but what most people do not know is that Slayer’s vocalist Tom Araya is a practicing Christian.

• Give their early albums a listen and it's hard to imagine anyone in Metallica as peaceful. It's still a little weird to think about the softer side of Metallica even though we know it's there. The idea that Kirk Hammett is a Buddhist, and that Dave Mustaine is a Christian allows a more spiritual view of the band.

• Brian Welch, better known as Head, and Reginald Quincy "Fieldy" Arvizu from Korn are born-again Christians.

• Nicko McBrain, drummer for Iron Maiden has been Christian since 1999.

• He initially tended to shy away from speaking publicly about his religious beliefs, but in recent years Alice Cooper has been vocal about his faith as a born-again Christian.

One of the reasons people react negatively towards the metal genre is the misconception that “all” types of metal involve screaming. Screamo is a genre of music which predominantly evolved from hard-core punk, among other genres, in the early 1990s. The term "Screamo" was initially applied to a more aggressive offshoot of emo that developed in San Diego in 1991, which used short, chaotically executed songs which grafted "spastic intensity to wilfully experimental dissonance and dynamics."

In the early 2000's, the genre name began to describe a different, slower and less dissonant style that borrowed from alternative rock. The term's application to the "second wave" is controversial among fans and practitioners of the earlier style. One musician alleged that the term "has been kind of tainted in a way".

I grew up listening to classical music in a conservative family. As I grew older and was brave enough to explore other genres of music, I fell head over heels in love with bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Slayer and Marilyn Manson.

Yes, at first my parents despised the fact that the sweet subtle tones of Mozart were being neglected due to exhilarating, crisp overtones of guitar riffs, but they realised that my new found love for rock and metal wasn’t affecting my academics or my family life, and had in fact helped me build my self-confidence that had been hidden away since childhood.

The unavoidable truth is that if it weren’t for all those misconceptions, the rock/metal genre would in fact be praised by society.

Chrissanne Cuppusamy

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