Nigerian musician Burna Boy is facing stiff resistance from some local artistes and music fans who have objected to his inclusion in the upcoming Africans Unite concert.
However, he has received support from none other than Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema.
Writing on Twitter on Tuesday, Malema said he was “looking forward to receiving and being entertained by my brother @burnaboy here at his home called South Africa.”
He added, “There’s no mascot that can stop him from performing, he’s one of our own and we will protect him. We must resolutely oppose regionalism led by political illiterates.”
Malema and EFF have been vocal in their opposition to xenophobia and their strong support for the abolition of African borders to promote African unity.
Burna Boy is set to be among headline acts at the Africans Unite concert scheduled for 23 November in Cape Town and 24 November in Pretoria.
Its aim is to help combat xenophobia by “rebuilding trust and respect amongst African nations by changing the current narrative to that of unity and solidarity.”
Other headline acts are local rapper Kwesta, Nigerian-American rapper Jidenna and singer Busiswa, among others. Minnie Dlamini will be the host.
Tshwane Entertainment Collective objects
Burna Boy’s inclusion has become controversial because of his tweets during September’s xenophobic unrest in parts of Gauteng.
On 3 September, he tweeted, “I personally have had my own xenophobic experiences at the hands of South Africans and because of that I have not set foot in SA since 2017.
“And I will NOT EVER go to South Africa again for any reason until the SOUTH AFRICAN government wakes up and really performs a miracle because I don’t know how they can even possibly fix this.”
Local fans felt he was being irresponsible by reacting to “fake news” and outdated videos doing the rounds on social media at the time.
Among those who took offence was local rapper AKA. However, Burna Boy reacted to him by tweeting, “And @akaworldwide I knew you was retarded but I didn’t know it had gotten this bad. Next time I see you, you better have a big security bro. On Gambos grave you gonna need it [sic].”
As a result, a group calling itself Tshwane Entertainment Collective has joined the fray and strongly objected to Burna Boy’s participation in the concert.
In an open letter to Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa earlier this week, they wrote, “Not only did he spread falsehoods through his extensive platforms, he literally incited violence and hate.”
They added, “He further promised to inflict his own violence on locals before giving your government an ultimatum which you seem to have received and succumbed to.”
On Wednesday, AKA said he was open to Burna Boy coming to South Africa, but asked for an apology from him first.
Malema’s entry into the controversy has further split opinion among fans on social media. Burna Boy hasn’t publicly reacted to the debate yet.