“Hemel Op Die Platteland”: A Fokofpolisiekar perspective
Plaas my in ‘n boks en merk dit veilig
Stuur my dan waarheen al die dose gaan
Stuur my hemel toe
Ek dink dis in die platteland”
Not since the Voëlvry Toer broke down the doors of the Citadel of Oppression in 1989 with an Afrikaans music movement that provided an alternative to the discourse of the day, had there been any group/ band/ movement that had threatened to rock the boat. Well, not until Fokofpolisiekar that is.
Whether you call them FPK, Fokof, or Polisiekar – the fact remains that in their 10 years in existence they have shaken things up more than just a bit. Wherever they go, they have a massive following – “Welcome to Afrikaans Beatlemania” if you will. Their music has spoken at the times and speaks to a “Rock Revolution” – far from it being a senseless orgy of anarchy and wanton rebellion by a bunch of youth (a decade on, the guys are not as young as when they first started).
Many a Friday evening has been spent belting out – at the top of my voice – the lyrics from my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands – period. And many a Saturday has been occupied by attempts to regain said voice; but never was there any regrets of the previous evening’s merriment and tequila-fuelled sing-alongs. Being a ‘local’ band has had nothing to do with my supporting of them – their music on the other hand, has everything to do with it.
This piece opens with a quote from the band’s anthem “Hemel Op Die Platteland”; and this quote highlights just how much the thought of conformity should be distrusted in its guise of normality. Of all the things you could do to me, compelling me to be a creation of your whim and to have me play by your rules is perhaps the most unnecessarily cruel. I have the right fight it. Be repulsed by it. Wholly refuse it. I’d rather you should readily stick me into the proverbial box, and send me away – I will not conform.
The goal of the band’s toil is our ultimate freedom from the shackles of our authoritarian, morally-decaying, decadent, and ‘because-I-said-so’ culture; and their music has affirmed that it’s cool to be who we are – be different. The music shouts itself at us from every conceivable noise-relaying invention and nearest contraption at innumerable decibels at a time.
It’s not difficult to pick up on the significant social and cultural commentary contained within their lyrics. For a decade they have kept parts of the South African press in business through acts of sheer “awesomeness” and huge doses of misunderstanding. There have been instances when the press have descended upon some of the band’s actions like frenzied sharks to a whale carcass; with startled reactions coming from the “concerned” public to the band and their supposed message to the youth. Of course rock bands were meant to raise our kids, how could they betray us so – they say. But with each salvo fired by the press (and the public it panders to), the band has come out stronger and with a more determined (sometimes crazed) following.
When the dust eventually settles, the lesson we take from all this is that throughout the history of humanity there have been “eras/ ages” within which we’ve excelled. Be it the cultural re-awakening that was brought about by the Renaissance coming out of 16th century Italy, to the Industrial Revolution, and now to today’s social media-informed existence – there is no denying the roles played by those who wrote of and documented the times. That is what I believe Fokofpolisiekar has excelled at – they have taken a broad paintbrush and have brazenly written a story of the times, of our times. They have allowed us to challenge these times as best we please, and to make sense of them in a manner that most represents each of us – of course with the occasional disagreement with our elders. But through this inevitable clashing of beliefs, an opportunity for dialogue has presented itself.
We will not be regulated, nor will we be forced into your routine – Fokofpolisiekar has given us a voice, and it will be heard!
Here’s to a the past decade of dedication and drunken evenings, can’t wait to see what the next one has in store (touch wood)! Fokof, Fokofpolisiekar!
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