Die Antwood’s (the answer) music video “Enter The Ninja” is the newest South African sensation to hit the “interweb”. Comprised of angry white guy lead man Ninja (born Waddy Jones), über blonde vixen Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Vuilgeboost (aka HI-TEK JUNIOR who occasionally subs for DJ HI-TEK), the group has adopted colored (racially mixed) hip-hop and transformed it into their own “zef” (redneck) music. This has led to all sorts of discussions concerning the appropriation – or misappropriation – of culture, and the inevitable question, Who owns South African culture?
In other words, What color owns South African culture? Or, for that matter, what color (race) owns what culture? Can the slave story be told by a white narrator? Can the Aboriginal story be told by a black narrator?
While history dictates that it cannot, at least not without prejudice, misconception, and omission, South Africa is, if not a melting-pot, a cultural stew. If anything, the close proximity of cultures cannot help but spill into one another. Add globalization and multi/trans-culturalism to this mix and “original” or “copyright” become difficult concepts to navigate.
Perhaps K’naan answers the question of who owns what best. In the video “young artists for Haiti”, K’naan says “what started as my song became their song”. “Enter The Ninja” is bold, different, a strange intermingling of performance, contemporary commentary, graffiti art, comedy, and anger.
So perhaps the question, Who owns South African culture is moot. In fact, it could be argued that South Africa’s history of apartheid, post-apartheid, inter-racial, cross-cultural, mish-mash of everything and everyone dictates that the question be moot. After all, how can you appropriate something that has surrounded you for so many generations? If anything, Die Antwood pushes the boundaries of race/color and ownership of culture beyond the narrow confines that culture should belong to any one group in particular. “Enter the Ninja” (Ninja=Japanese) proves this just by the fact that it has become an international sensation – maybe Die Antwood’s international audience doesn’t get every reference, but something is reaching them at some level and forming some form of connection.