The past few days have been filled with controversial headlines that relate to the just concluded Ghoema Music Awards for 2019. The events that occurred before the event and what is happening after is what is stirring the mixed reactions. The main area of concern is the move by MultiChoice, one of the sponsors of the event, to have a song by a celebrated Afrikaans artist; Steve Hofmeyr, removed from the list of nominations.
The events that occurred after MultiChoice removed a song by Steve Hofmeyr from the list of nominated songs have the leading cause of the uproar, especially for the sponsors of the event. On March 25th, the main sponsor of the event wrote a letter to the organizers of the event asking them to have a song that Steve had done be dropped from the list of nominations. This move has caused some artists to withdraw from the awards, and has extended its consequences to the Afrikaans is Groot event.
Why was Steve Hofmeyr dropped from the nominations list?
According to a letter that the main sponsors of the Ghoema Music Awards; MultiChoice, wrote to the Ghoemas. The letter asked the organizers of the awards to have one of the Steve Hofmeyr songs removed from the list of the nominations. Die Land; a song that Steve Hofmeyr had featured in alongside Bok van Blerk, Bobby van Jaarsveld, Jay, and Touch of Class, had received the nomination for the category of the Best Music Video category.
MultiChoice stated that Steve was the reason as to why they had chosen to give the directive because he was racist and that was against what the company stands for. The company issued an ultimatum that if the song was not removed from the list, it would withdraw all forms of support from the event. The statement came after claims came up that Steve was racist. The allegations followed one of the posts he made in 2014 on his Twitter account stating," Sorry to offend but in my books, Blacks were the architects of Apartheid. Go figure."
The statement from MultiChoice
The author of the letter was the Executive Corporate Affairs officer of MultiChoice Group, Joe Heshu. The company said, "We are committed to the building of a non-racial society and strongly condemn any acts of discrimination. MultiChoice is proud of its support for Afrikaans, not only our investment in content for our DSTV platforms but also our sponsorships of festivals, events, and the broader Afrikaans performing arts sector.
"Our commitment to Afrikaans and all local languages will not change. It has come to our attention that Steve Hofmeyr was nominated for a Ghoema Music Award in the category for Best Music video. We have requested that Steve Hofmeyr not form part of the event that we sponsor as his views are not aligned with our values. We welcome a society where freedom of speech is celebrated; however, we take a stand against racism."
Reactions to the directive by MultiChoice
This letter caused mixed reactions among the fans and other artists, among those that Steve had worked with in the 'Die Land' project. Bok van Blerk and Bobby van Jaarsveld were among the artists who expressed their disappointment for being victims of the directive. They took to their Twitter accounts to state that they would not attend the event. Other parties that were saddened by this move include Coleske artists who claimed that the move would affect the integrity of the awards.
On the other hand, some parties supported the move. Among these parties were the organizers of the Ghoema awards. They voiced the statement saying that the event did not promote discrimination. Another party is Bok Radio that is one of the sponsors of the awards. The radio stated, "Bok Radio can't support discrimination on any level against any artist(s), group, or language. Bok Radio supports the arts and artists right of association, poetic freedom, and freedom of speech."
For Steve Hofmeyr, who is the victim for this case, he was equally disappointed. He expressed his frustrations in a Facebook post saying; "The bottomless childishness continues. Hi-jacking the arts, especially the white part of it. Just look at how MultiChoice is making the Afrikaners at the Ghoemas jump through a fire hoop of political correctness like poodles."
Steve Hofmeyr's retaliation to the matter did not make the situation any better. Instead, things got more heated up when MultiChoice issued a ban on all content which had Steve's contribution. The company affirmed that it will not air future his content and will try to prevent the broadcast of any archived material in which he features. This statement was issued to Channel24.
The move by MultiChoice might have a significant impact on Steve's career, mainly because DSTV has been of great support when it comes to granting him airplay for Steve Hofmeyr songs. The company was also of great assistance to his TV hosting career, when he hosted a show; Dis Hoe Dit is, a talk show on kykNET on channel 144. He has also featured in a couple of series and TV shows that used to be aired on DSTV channels.
Toyota sponsorship South Africa
Amidst the tensed and turbulent atmosphere regarding the Steve Hofmeyr saga, another blow hit the Afrikaans family. Toyota South Africa are the sponsors of the Afrikaans Is Groot (AIG), one of the most significant Afrikaans concerts that happen annually. According to a statement that the company issued, Toyota stated that they had reviewed the contract with AIG and came to a consensus to discontinue the sponsorship. To add to it, the company said that it is going to continue sponsoring events that support diversity.
The move by Toyota to withdraw sponsorship comes days after MTN, another sponsor of the event withdrew its support from the event. This move comes after MTN claiming that it was withdrawing its support because Steve Hofmeyr will be part of the show. The company went ahead to express its sentiments saying, "Through its brand and network, MTN seeks to connect South Africans and bring people together, and it's unfortunate that by persisting with Hofmeyr, AIG is no longer helping serve that objective."
On May 2nd, 2019, what seemed to be a heated tag of war went a notch higher when a Steve Hofmeyr fan shared a video of himself breaking his DSTV satellite dish. This move comes after Steve had issued a notice that he would have a 'special funeral' for his dish and cancel his four DSTV decoders. He made all these claims on his Twitter account page.
Afrikaans is Groot ticket
Amidst all the drama that is going on regarding Steve Hofmeyr, the plans for Afrikaans is Groot Pretoria are underway, and the sale of the Afrikaans is Groot 2019 tickets is already on. The event organizers are calling upon those who are interested in being part of the event to hasten up and acquire their tickets on time.
The flow of events regarding the Steve Hofmeyr saga turns out to get uglier with every move. The saga has caused a division among the Afrikaans. What started as an emotional meltdown does not seem like it might end well. Maybe Hofmeyr might be committing career suicide by letting his emotions crowd his judgment.