In gesprek met 'Parkiebank, herfs 2017' se regisseur Sean Metelerkamp
Hi Sean, thanks for taking the time.
Before I touch on the specifics, could you share your thoughts on what you wanted to achieve by making this music video, in part taking the form of a documentary? It's layered with different forms of symbolism. In a statement of one of your previous projects you state: "I position myself in key geographical and social areas of transition; highlighting the lines of contrast when racialised consciousness dominates a society’s peoples, landscapes, and structures. The result is a catalog of cultures in transition, traces of the familiar alongside the peculiar, and the formation of post-colonial and apartheid identities in a landscape as diverse as its peoples.”
This statement is from a previous project, correct.
Herewith the answer to your question about this project, which has fokkol to do with that project:
For white Afrikaners (“my mense” - people like the lyricist, Hunter, and the rest of the band) to reimagine their identity, in order to remain (“wat maak ons nog hier?”) in South Africa and prosper alongside other cultures, by dismantling a design that is hindering a new breed from advancing.
The documentary aspect is to hear from young Afrikaners. In a country that is moving forward, and is rightfully uninterested in ‘white problems’, introspection, with compassion from the ilk, will be key to create a new consciousness and so I wanted to hear from youngsters that have been ‘liberated’, and are supposedly on that ‘edge’, because of fellows like Fokofpolisiekar.
The most pertinent question of the interviews conducted in Bloemfontein, Stellenbosch and Durbanville was, “wat is die volgende Groot Trek vir die Afrikaner?” I was riffing off of the lyrics in the chorus: “wat maak ons nog hier… my mense het nie tuisland nie”.
Some people answered this question literally, and others offered existential contemplations.
I admired the hopeful disposition of the youngsters and appreciated the honesty in fear. At that age, you are seemingly guided by moral reflex over reasoning, with little time left before a system of thoughts combined with experience (good or bad) guide the spirit along a decided path.
The video in totality garnered some serious critique in a discussion on Facebook, highlighting alt-right elements through the lyrics and symbolism; i.e. white supremacy, nationalism and racism. It is said that the lyrics state that "ons mense het nie 'n tuisland nie" and through the visual references it only seems to include white Afrikaners, although white Afrikaners on this thread don't agree and brown Afrikaners find it insulting.
Sadly it seems as though the devil is in your details and you’re unable to use your god given imagination to see elements, not once mentioned in the questions of this interview, such as the Gold Rhino of Mapangubwe, the Ouroboros, the Chameleon exchange, or the Rainbow stone; the embodiment of Afrikaners in the new South Africa to clear the path of decrepit idols for original collective constructions.
Those elements need to be highlighted, in this context, in order to be dealt with.
Clinging to conflict in the form of targeted idols that are being severed and a language, as beautiful as it is, being told to keep quiet is heartbreaking, yes. But you cannot stand still, for it would be moving backwards, in a rapidly changing space and so at this stage, the choice is to either watch the slow destruction, or dismantle them into distilled safe spaces, out of respect for the culture, and for others sharing these spaces. New icons can grow from these open spaces of communication.
A white baby is also used in the first screens to induce a certain tonality in the video. The discussion's comments further state that unjust nostalgia is used to ignite feelings of being discriminated against, being an Afrikaans white person in South Africa, whilst this demographic still have it better than most.
The baby in the WhatsApp message is Francois van Coke’s child; one to inherit Afrikaner idiosyncrasies no doubt - how deep is up to Francois and his wife and who they decide to surround themselves with and the types of conversations they are willing to have.
The phone is held by Rian Malan, progeny of D.F. Malan, and, because Rian’s time is almost up, he drops the message/passes the baton into another dimension. Francois has to now deal with the question of ‘Afrikaner, Quo Vadis?’ (Afrikaner, where are you going?) - a famous D.F. Malan quote - in relation to his offspring. After a long struggle, Francois retorts with a forceful ‘fokof’ (in the WhatsApp message) - this aligns with the explosion of the jongmanskas filled with withering ‘unjust nostalgia’. Francois rejects the notion of an uncertain future for his child.
There is hope! Before the destruction, the AWB Oom gently passes on a Chameleon to the Boy. Change is possible. And Afrikaners can still retain the pioneering spirit in order to clear a path for future generations, burgeoning the beautiful elements of an extraordinary being. The tendrils of a vicious past must be made visible and then destroyed, but we cannot leave these momentous decisions in the hands of those born into the culture, incapable to discern until moulded by elders, when it might be too late and the psychological trauma haunts them on a subterranean level. This permeates through the rest of our land and affects e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y.
Now I am explaining the video. Don’t wanna do that.
Francois, and Fokofpolisiekar, cannot be expected to continue to hold the baton and spread a new message. A new wave is bubbling, who is gonna get ripped?
There are those that are willing to dig deep into the schism, to rip it open and display their spirit in order to present a pathway for this new genus; whatever that is, whoever grabs it, who knows, but these people are risking themselves for the progressive unknown. How one comes out on the other side can be life or death. But showing others that you can, at least try to change, allows others in crisis that want to bloom to have hope and forge a bold existence and evolve as individuals, with their culture holding their hands for support, we hope. This is our duty as humans - to support growth.
The main skinhead-esque character fixing his patriotic posture in the mirror, standing over a crawling Voortrekker woman and resenting a black girl adds to the uncomfortable symbolism.
The main skinhead-esque character fixing his patriotic posture in the mirror, standing over a crawling Voortrekker woman -
now you are scratching too hard.
resenting a black girl -
The Boy does not resent her. Rather, he does not understand the symbol of wealth that she so proudly presents on the lyric “iemand is altyd ryker as almal anders”.
Hunter is “contemplating financial prosperity as a measure of success and the ethical dilemma around wealth in a country like ours where as a result of centuries of colonization, civil wars, exploitation of cheap labour and natural resources, blatant racial oppression and gross mismanagement at governmental level the rich/poor line still has a colour.” - quote from an interview he did about the song.
This was my moment of addressing this and putting my spin on it.
The Gold Rhino as a symbol of wealth and prosperity, and consequently the story of Mapangubwe, links to the incarnation of the Ouroboros (the Boy) in terms of “natures endless creation and destruction, life and death” - to go back to the virtual world versus the real world, and incorporating the Ouroboros, here is an angle if you will - the Boy is not real, but rather just a recognisable conduit that receives messages from other dimensions (Francois and Voortrekker lady) and based on what he has seen - makes a decision to change the future.
You have only focused on the obvious identifiable symbols of Afrikaner culture seeped in white supremacy, nationalism and racism.
It seems, with regards to the other symbols, that you cannot see what you do not understand and have been blinded by the obvious.
For a quick read on Mapungubwe - and incidentally how a close-minded government thwarted the possible rise of black consciousness/wealth, which could also apply to a new generation of Afrikaners in the context of this video: Mapungubwe.
The video makes use of various right-wing and apartheid symbols, as well as other white Afrikaner symbols, which is ultimately destroyed by a rainbow-like object. It is confusing what is meant by this. It could indicate the new South Africa taking the place of the old (through force), but from a right-wing perspective it could confirm an attack on white Afrikaner identity. These are present issues that societies are dealing with throughout the world (think Trump), but should it be presented as a viewpoint worth holding and presenting in light of larger societal movements based on progressive equality? This gets to be a controversial video to sell, seeing that it's connected to merchandise and beer and other commercial enterprises.
Trying to answer this convoluted question would be me stealing your hypothesis. And if this be your (confused, as you confessed) viewpoint, then so be it.
Fokofpolisiekar approached me to make a visual piece based off of a song, not to market their beer or other merchandise - there is no product placement in any of the visual content. These other efforts/projects they need to do as an Afrikaans punk rock band on the southern tip of Africa to stay afloat and continue to make music, do not concern me. They have never asked me to endorse any of their ‘commercial enterprises’.
Then there's the interviews with Fokof-fans that were released on Instagram, that take on a personal and politicised nature. By its presentation it seems like the band is endorsing these viewpoints, although some of them could be regarded as problematic.
Their answers are not problematic. Our reactions to their answers are problematic.
If we cannot listen to one another, no matter the person's stance, and approach any attitude with compassion then our problems within/across cultures will continue to divide us. Scars will not heal with disdain.
Identity is personal. Homeland in South Africa is political. I see no way of avoiding an investigation into ones culture without it being charged with those agendas.
Sien nog van die onderhoude hier.
The video has garnered a lot of positive feedback from Fokofpolisiekar fans which indicates that it touches on uncertainty and even some paranoia that is indeed present. Yet this emotional response to current day South African politics is readily used by groups such as AfriForum to further ignite racial conflict and divisiveness. Do you think it's fair to pin some racial incitement on this video, as some have? It might be popular amongst fans, but could that be ascribed to populism amongst white Afrikaners?
(Geen antwoord was verskaf nie) – Red
You and Fokofpolisiekar are known as liberal artists, yet the video seems to stand in defence of whiteness, bluntly disregarding its problematic aspects.
The video defends whiteness as much as it protects whiteness, which it does not do at all.
I speak about myself here with regards to the liberal comment, and some other insights as I learn about myself through these processes:
I do not defend or protect any creed or political position. I do not try to please any team when I play; I am attempting to cure myself, and others if they feel me, with audits of the positive and negative emotions - this be our common thread - so that we can propel our existence out of this momentary cyst and into the fucking unknown. That’s where I wanna go and it would be great if I had someone to come with me. Discovery is boring if you cannot share it.
A candidate for nihilism, I adopt an ethos of ‘what are my intentions?’ and if what I create is seen as right or left this does not bother me. What’s right today will be wrong tomorrow depending on whose chair you sit in.
So ja, I am the ultimate outsider; no culture, no roots, no affiliation or allegiance to any idea; a metaphysical loner and, fortunately, this means that my ability for emotional dexterity has not isolated in a cage of oppression. I am privileged to that extent. I can actually be of use.
In the meantime I drift through the confusion with fascination, changing my shape accordingly.
No work presents itself in a vacuum and the emotional cords struck are those mostly held by white Afrikaners who are bitter about attempts to build a more inclusive South Africa.
What do those emotional chords sound like, what do they feel like? When we get to the bottom of the major negative emotions steering bitter people into exclusivity in South Africa then I believe an understanding could occur. We do not need to all live together and love each other, but to share the space appropriately is an attempt. Prefer that over the finger pointing and fellatio in the vapid echo chambers.
Is an artist responsible for how his or her work is perceived through the elements that they choose to include?
This video is not didactic: traumatic symbolism (elements) painted across ambivalent layers wrought with confusion and decisiveness are naturally going to dissect people that are already of full blown proud and/or paranoid of their particular culture.
The perceptions are going to differ according to your disposition within the culture and with what you decide to do with this presentation, thus I feel my responsibility, especially with a song like this, lies in the attempt to create discourse - not in the interpretation.
This process that Fokof has gifted to me has been educational and uncomfortable and I thank them for that. I would also like to thank all the Afrikaners that I have gotten to know leading up to this video. And to those who worked on the video, supporting the creation, thank you. Super grateful.
Hunter Kennedy, liriekskrywer, se denkswyse rondom 'Parkiebank, herfs 2017':
“In die stuk bepeins ek finansiële welvaard as 'n maatstaf van sukses en die etiese dilemma rondom rykdom in 'n land soos ons s'n, waar as gevolg van eeue se kolonialisasie, burgeroorloë, uitbuiting van goedkoop handearbeid en natuurlike hulpbronne, blatante rassistiese onderdrukking en in 'n post-demokratiese milieu, ons slagoffers was van grootskaalse wanbestuur; die ryk/arm lyn nogsteeds 'n kleur het. Dit handel ook oor die maatstaf van geluk volgens prestasie en die teenstrydigheid van jou hele lewe lank werk om eendag niks te kan doen nie. Duidelik het ek 'n probleem met vasgevang wees in ons produk-gedrewe, kapitaal-sentriese bestaan en ek dreig gereeld om te ontsnap, maar ons doen nooit wat ons sê ons gaan nie, né?
My haat/liefde verhouding met die media lei na baie slapelose nagte. Ek het soms 'n dringende paranoia op my van die nuus lees en dan vermaak ek die idee van ontsnap. Van nie net die lokvalle van weelde en rykdom nie, maar ook van die rasse-diskoers in ons land (dit was toe Bell-Pottinger se plan ‘gepeak’ het). Ek voel baie keer ek hoort nie hier nie, maar dan wonder ek ook waar ek nou eintlik hoort. In ander stukke het ek al die geldigheid van grense in ons alhoemeer geïntegreërde wêreld bevraagteken en ek voel dat ons, en die mense wat soos ons is, nie dink aan onsself as patriote nie en dus het ons nie tuisland nie en het in-fact nie een nodig nie.
‘Wat maak ons nog hier?’ is 'n oproep tot aksie om interne ondersoek in te stel en met die vraag te worstel tot jy ’n antwoord het. Uiteindelik dink ek die punt van die lied is om mense te kry om net weer hulleself belangrike vrae af te vra rondom identiteit en die rol wat hul hulself sien speel in ons breë samelewing om sodoende mense te kry om ingeligte besluite te kan neem.”
Sien ook: Beste Fokofpolisiekar – 'n ope brief deur Karl Kemp