Ben Trovato has penned a satirical open letter to DJ Black Coffee following his controversial decision to play at an Israeli gig, a move that has been regarded as insensitive by those sympathizing with Palestine in the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
Dear DJ Black Coffee,
Shalom and congratulations on becoming a household name across South Africa. Thanks to your gig in Israel on the Easter weekend, even white people have heard of you now. To be honest, I always thought you were a musician. I suppose the letters DJ should have tipped me off, but it could have been your initials. Like PJ Powers.
Perhaps deeejays do consider themselves to be musicians these days. If so, I apologise. When I was a teenager, disc jockey was little more than a fancy title for the neighbourhood geek with a record collection who was sometimes persuaded, usually by threats of violence, to be in charge of the music at a house party so that everyone else could have fun without the hassle of changing the records themselves.
I imagine things are a bit more sophisticated since then, although the basic principle remains the same. You people – deejays, not black people – are like the taxi drivers of the music business. Instead of women saying, “Take me to Verulam and please don’t kill me” they say “Play some reggae or my boyfriend will kill you.
Even the music has changed. It’s all digital and electronic and you have to have an ear for it. You don’t need much of a brain, obviously, but an ear is quite important. I lack the ear, quite frankly. I always seem to miss the moment the beat drops. I don’t even notice when I drop my car keys.
Your job can’t be easy, though, even if it means putting on a clean T-shirt every day. You’re on your feet the whole time and your mission is to keep everyone happy. It’s especially important that we keep the Israelis happy, particularly the soldiers who must have enjoyed your show after being out in the field all day. Shooting Palestinians is hot and heavy work, even if they are unarmed and several hundred metres away. Soldiers are people too. There is a time for shooting and there is a time for dancing. It’s a good thing the Israeli army knows which is which or the carnage at Gan Ha-Slaim (that’s The Rocks Garden to the goyim) would have been awful.
You probably know by now that not everyone is delighted with you spreading the love among the Israelis. The ever charming and always restrained Lindiwe Zulu said in a statement this week that it was “with deep concern that the ANC has learnt of the recent visit to Israel of Mr Nkosinathi Maphumulo, popularly known as Black Coffee.”
It was with deep concern that I learnt Black Coffee is not your real name. I’m not judging. All the best people have pseudonyms. Don’t worry about the ANC, comrade. The party never once noted with anything remotely approximating deep concern that the previous president and half his cabinet were stealing money hand over fist.
I do think it’s damnably unfair of the government not to even mention that your concert was a sell-out. You sold out, Black Coffee. That’s got to count for something.
Nobody could blame you for taking to Twitter to defend yourself. Hell, if you were an Israeli you would have taken to a Merkava battle tank. Your critics are fortunate that tweets do a lot less damage than 120mm armour-piercing rounds.
“Like everyone else,” you tweeted, “I have rights and free will and no Black Coffee is not a political party. I work as an entertainer to feed my family. To sum it up I’ll take a bullet for my family.”
Funnily enough, 18 Palestinians literally took a bullet for their families on Good Friday. It’s their own damn fault for protesting about something or other instead of entertaining people with music and maybe doing some magic tricks for the kids.
Anyone with an ounce of compassion in their hearts understands that you work as an entertainer to feed your family in much the same way that Syrian President Basha al-Assad works as a warlord to feed his family, Kim Jong-un works as a dictator to feed his family and Jacob Zuma didn’t really work but he still managed to feed his massive family. We understand.
I read somewhere that you’re worth R27-million. I don’t know how big your family is, but I do know that kids eat a lot these days. Nobody wants to see your family go hungry.
You say Black Coffee is not a political party but have you considered going into politics? Now would be the perfect time. The only place to go is up. You could have bilateral relations with the Myanmar government. Set up your decks on the northern border and give the Rohingya a rousing sendoff as they flee to Bangladesh. Or hook up with the Chinese. Play at the Yulin dog festival to raise money for organ harvesting among the Falun Gong. And there are still massive opportunities in Russia and North Korea. What about doing a Taliban tour? Or, closer to home, a benefit concert for the Freedom Front Plus? The possibilities are endless and you’d be a fool to think the world doesn’t need more people who are prepared to do anything for money.
This isn’t your first rodeo in Tel Aviv, is it? You played there in 2014. At this rate you’ll be declared an honorary Israeli in no time at all. If you’re not already circumcised, get it done soon. You wouldn’t want something as silly as a foreskin getting in the way of being granted the freedom of the city.
Back then, a centrist group of left-wing conservatives called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa asked you not to do it. Maybe you didn’t get the memo because you reportedly feigned ignorance about Israel holding 4.5 million people hostage while slowly stealing their land. It’s okay. Feigning ignorance is an old South African tradition, albeit one that is largely restricted to the white population, especially when it comes to apartheid.
I don’t know whether to call you Comrade Black or Mr Coffee. Nevertheless, I applaud you for your decision not to boycott Israel even though you boycotted the Swaziland arts festival in 2011. At the time you said, “We can’t be happy when Swazi people are suffering. We support the call to boycott the festival and I am not going.” Good for you. King Mswati is way worse than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He refuses to allow his marijuana to flow freely into South Africa, for a start. The man is a monster.
Cultural boycotts don’t work. Imagine if losers like Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Keith Richards and Jimmy Cliff hadn’t pledged in 1985 to never play Sun City while the apartheid government was in power. They’d be rich and famous today. So much for principles.
You probably know that the level-headed and not at all barking mad Lindiwe Zulu also said, “We await an opportunity to engage Black Coffee and the creative sector at large with a view to … creating common cause between all South Africans in rallying behind Palestine.”
My advice is that you tell her you’re already engaged. And what is this creative sector of which she speaks? We’re a splinter group at best. Full of jagged edges and shrapnel. The minister of arts and culture is the former minister of police, for heaven’s sake. You want funding? Come and get it, painter boy. Make my day.
Also, we can’t physically rally behind Palestine because that’s the Mediterranean sea behind Gaza and it’s full of Israeli patrol boats and anyone on the beach is liable to get shot at or blown up because at that distance nobody can tell for sure what kind of shells those Palestinian kids are busy with and I still need my legs so I can get to the bottle store on a Friday afternoon.
You’ve upset some very powerful people. You can either double down like Donald Trump and become the resident deejay at the Orania Home for the Eternally Unrepentant or change your name. How about DJ Caffè Macchiato? Black with a bit of white foam. Or DJ Kafe Shachor? That’s Hebrew for black coffee. Or move away from hot beverages altogether.
Whatever you do, though, don’t move to the ghettos of southern Tel Aviv. Netanyahu just did a big flip-flop after his rightwing homies called him out for being a schvartzer-lover. Go back to Africa or go to jail now seems to be the migrants’ only option.
Anyway. What do you care? You’re off to Ibiza for six months. Keep living la vida loca, my friend.