I was listening to Hugh Masekela just now!

It’s weird how broad-mindedness can backfire on you.
On morning this week, I was at work early, getting into a few chores, and embracing the opportunity to rock the office stereo.
Like everyone on earth, I believe myself to have catholic tastes in music. Ask me what I listen to, and I’ll answer, “Oh, a bit of everything”. And so will you.
In the same way that no one realises they’re a bigot, absolutely nobody will concede that they’re a narrow-minded music listener.
Guys will be like, “Everything. I listen to everything. Slipknot, 36 Crazyfists, Mudvayne, Disturbed…” Meanwhile they’re only listening to contemporary American metal.
So anyway, there I am. It’s 8am on a Monday morning, and I’m experiencing the open-mindedness of my music collection. I’ve just got a whole bunch of CDs from Reliable. Aretha Sings The Blues, Hugh Masekela, Harari’s greatest hits, Pops Mohamed and, rather incongruously, Bok van Blerk.
I’d never heard Bok’s De La Rey album. It’s been accused of stirring up extreme Afrikaner nationalism, of pandering to latent white racism, of harking back to the days of Boer freedom fighters, of polarizing the nation.
I quite liked the video, with its Boer war imagery and the song’s haunting chorus, “De La Rey, De La Rey, sal jy die boer kom lei…” bemoaning the lack of a strong modern Afrikaans leader.
I never got around to listening to the album during the initial controversy, but that weekend at Reliable Music, I chanced upon it and thought, ja, let’s give the oke a chance.
As luck would have it, that Monday, a TV crew was coming to our offices to film an insert for some show.
So I’m sitting there alone in the office, blasting De La Rey at full taps when the TV producer walks into the office with our PR manager. He’s an Indian guy, and he looks slightly stunned as we’re introduced to the roaring strains of Bok’s paean to the fallen Afrikaner leader.
I’m a bit taken aback myself. My first instinct is to point out that I hardly ever play Afrikaans music, let alone De La Rey. I’m just curious to hear the album, and the fact is, I have extremely broad music tastes. I was listening to Hugh Masekela just now. I’m really not a right-wing apologist. My wife is black! I’m far more English than Afrikaans!
But apologizing for my music would only have made it worse, so I said nothing. We grimly shook hands, the PR guy dying a thousand deaths as the song got to the part about “Die leeu van die Wes Transvaal”
Then the producer rushed off to begin filming, while I dived into my iTunes and played kwaito and 1950s township swing jazz for the rest of the day. I was not interviewed for the TV insert.
When I eventually got around to listening to the rest of the album, I was dismayed to find I didn’t like it at all. However, in the eyes of one guy at least, I’m still chairman of the De La Rey fan club.
That’ll teach me to be open-minded.

Writer for television, print and digital, corporate and editorial. Editor and writer of books. Musical performance, spoken word as Inspector Ras. Guitar/vocals for The Near Misses, (Worst Band In JoburgTM). The last whitey at umsebenzi. Latest book 415 Action-Packed Neighbourhood Marketing Tips with Basil O'Hagan, out now. @hagenengler

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