Word is that DJ Cleo said he wants nothing to do with the boycott for democratic change in Swaziland. As long as he gets paid he will perform for King Mswati III.Many local artists have been warned by the Swaziland Solidarity Network not to cross the border into the kingdom.But the South African DJ will have none of that and falls short of calling Mswati a superbeing in his praise of Africa’s last absolute mornach.
Cleo was quoted by Daily Sun as having said;“That is all politics. My work is what feeds my kids and I won’t stay away just because some people make threats. “There are no sanctions on us not to go to Swaziland,”
About meeting King Mswati III he added;“It was such a humbling experience, there was such great humility in me when I was speaking to him. He is a humble man, which makes you wonder why people are against him. “The first time I was in his presence, I did not get to speak to him but when I did, I had to do what anyone would. “I bowed my head. I have a lot of respect for him,”
The big hoohah around this and the boycott is that while the King and his family live in opulence, majority of his subjects wallow in abject poverty. Forbes Magazine estimates that King Mswati III, who has 13 wives, has a fortune of R750m. Yet recent reports are that King Mswati turns 44 on 19 April and Swazis, many of whom live on R15 a day, are being asked to contribute cattle as part of the R5 million celebrations.
5mil party?! Just last year there were reports that the King met with South African President,, in order to ask for a whopping R10 billion bailout.In 2010 Swaziland, the nation of about 1.2 million people, lost over a third of its revenue as income from a regional customs union collapsed when the global economic crisis slashed trade, according to the government.
Last year with government freezing state wages and imposing higher taxes to fight the country’s worst-ever fiscal crisis, guess how the King dealt with that… King Mswati III who owns luxury cars like a Rolls Royce and 13 palaces, received a pay increase!!
Cleo raised an interesting point in saying that he needs to feed his kids and would do the job and leave the politics out of it. Should artists be expected to uphold political views or not? I have always been a huge fan of Simphiwe Dana until her hypocritical partisan political views on Twitter irritated me and now I find myself not appreciating her music the same way. Every time I read one of her ridiculous rants I tend to wish she could just leave the politics and sing. Now here is Dj Cleo who is doing exactly that but it still does not sit well with me that he would contribute to a R5million birthday party for the King while his people, some of whom are Cleo’s fans, are denied the most basic rights by this King.
At the end of the day Cleo is not a political figure nor is he bound by any laws not to perform in Swaziland. If he chooses to do it that is his prerogative.
However this situation has raised some rather interesting debates. I personally am struggling with reconciling myself to the fact that Cleo is an entertainer and should not have to be drawn into morality issues but then again he is a human being before he is an entertainer. Then there is also the issue of not being hypocritical. If I can wish that Simphiwe Dana just stay out of politics (more bluntly stop picking on Helen Zille and finding fault in everything the Western Cape government does), why am I not ok with extending Cleo the same courtesy in this matter?
What are your thoughts on artists being involved in politics?
Bear in mind that some musicians were very instrumental in the liberation struggle across the world.