Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rock the Vote!

Van Coke Kartel, Zinkplaat and Jackal & Wolf Klein Libertas Theater, 15 April 2009 Upon studying democratisation and democratic consolidation one finds that a country’s third or fourth election round after becoming a democracy [pseudo or otherwise] is generally where the problems begin. For South Africa, next Wednesday the 22nd of April will be that round: the third since Madiba stepped in and saved the day. Personally I have yet to decide which party I will be crossing off on my ballot next week, but I will draw that cross! Seven days before voting, the Democratic Alliance [DA] hosted a ‘Rock the Vote’ gig in Stellenbosch; an interesting idea, considering that the local music scene has precious little to do [directly] with politics. The closest link I can find is that Helen Zille’s son plays in a band [a cool band at that, check out The Beams if you ever get the chance]. Is it simply a fresher take on things, delving into what the younger generation likes, in a hope to involve them more, inspire them to be politically sophisticated citizens, or [and here is where the cynic in me puts its hand up] is it perhaps a ruse to get more votes? Perhaps someone has been reading this blog and my “The Power of Music” idea has sparked a revolution. Ok, I doubt that. I can’t know what it is, but either way it was probably one of the DA’s less successful campaigns, and mostly not the party’s fault. First fail is the enormous DA Student Organisation poster outside, proudly sporting the logo and colour scheme mirrored on the enormous DA bus parked outside. It reads DASO UCT. As in, Democratic Alliance Student Organisation-- University of Cape Town. Maybe printing one for Stellenbosch University fell out of the budget plan, maybe because of the petrol bill that bus sent home. Second fail is the line up. While I am a fan of both Zinkplaat and Van Coke Kartel, I cannot fathom many who would have both under the ‘music’ section of their Facebook profile. It’s very Yin Yang, but not in a cool way like when Isochronous plays with Taxi Violence. The two also produce vastly different moods, so to have them play back to back would be just a little odd. As for Jackal and Wolf... They’re angry, lacking in more than one field regarding talent, and I cannot call myself a fan. Another fail is the order of the line-up. Zinkplaat should by no means have played first! I was in disbelief when I greeted Basson and thought, “No man is that sweaty before even getting on stage”. Yes, they had already played, and I had missed it. I do not know why this happened, but it did. Perhaps the argument was a volume build-up, beginning with the chilled plaasrock and a gradual escalation to Francois Van Coke. And that is why genres so opposite should sometimes not be thrown together so haphazardly like oil and water, expected to blend. It needs a catalyst of sorts to justify such a combination and to create the desired end-product. Lastly, the crowd itself: Dismal. Once again I find myself using a word I despise to describe the support for local music in this town at present. There were hardly enough people to fill the smaller inside stage area, let alone the outside! It seems lately that, unless a gig is held at the right venue on the right night with the right bands, it will be poorly attended. Perhaps it is academics demanding more attention, perhaps it is the economic recession. Perhaps the reason is one of which I am unaware, but I am determined to figure it out and change things back to how they were a while back, where we would go out, pay the entrance fee, spend all our money on booze and rock out to the full as good, reckless students should. Moreover, the crowd was apathetic to the political cause behind it all. It was easy to spot the DASO kids, sporting too-high slacks and either white collared shirts or something with Helen Zille’s face on. The regular gig-goers seemed happy enough being where they so often are, but they seemed quite blithe about all the talk around elections, change, rights and all that political jazz many feel is not theirs to discuss, and not within their ability to change. Judging by this gig, nobody under the age of 25 in Stellenbosch is going to vote. I pray that this will not be the case. As much as this post focuses on politics, I must make brief mention of Van Coke Kartel, which is the only set I watched in its entirety. Despite a small crowd, something Van Coke Kartel rarely experiences, these guys still gave it their all! There was the usual energy, Wynand’s spastic jumpkicks, all-over-the place rocking out. I applaud musicians who can do this. The sound was a tinge out of kilter, but Van Coke Kartel did not disappoint those present because of those absent, and the [few] fans there gave just as much back. Watching this made me all warm and fuzzy inside for our superb local musicians. So, the DA hosts a rock gig. A cool initiative, whatever the exact thought processes behind it. Line-up suggests organisation by someone a little more PolSci 324, a little less Fokofpolisiekar. But it’s there, it’s yours to attend and, this being Stellenbosch, it cannot be more than two kilometres from where you reside. The end-result is a small crowd that seems wholly uncaring to South Africa’s future. Epic fail, Stellenbosch. So here’s a message from someone who reads the news online every morning, reads the news to you four times a day on air, watches the news, records political debates, reads court cases involving politicians, does political science as a major and who, on the 22nd of April, will walk to her designated voting station, make an informed decision, and draw a cross: Vote. I can understand why people feel hopeless and figure their single vote will not make a difference, and so they simply shrug it off. But take a second and imagine if everyone had that attitude. I am not going to tell you who to vote for, or who not to vote for, but for the first time in 15 years, South Africa has opposition parties who may just be able to turn us into a democracy, and take us off #31 of the ‘world’s most flawed democracies’ list. For the first time we have the power to sway our country’s political state and curb the reigning populism. So go out for one day, be a politically sophisticated citizen, attempt to make a difference, and you may have done just that. Vote. That is all. PS. Helen Zille for President of the world! She is awesome.

1 comment:

Billy said...

Go Helen.She really makes politics exciting!Im not voting,but if I would,then DA is the one.F*** ANC!