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The Nazis and the funksters

April 20th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments
The good AWB

The good AWB

A source of unceasing amusement for me is the coincidence that the acronym AWB, which music lovers will associate with the multi-racial funk group Average White Band, applies in South Africa to the white supremacist, neo-Nazi organisation known as the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement). Indeed, they were very much a band of average white men.

Their leader was (and in their entirely irrelevant form today, still is) one Eugene Terre”Blanche, a huge ex-cop who could articulate the aspirations of his fellow ultra-racists on strength of a certain charisma and a background in poetry. In the 1980s, he was a household name, believed to be a “force to be reckoned with”. His beef was that apartheid South Africa was just too left-wing and accommodating of blacks. Then it all fell apart for E.T., as he was dubbed. There were the bizarre revelations of gossip journalist Jani Allan, who had become fascinated by and smitten with Terre”Blanche. Among the defining revelations during a libel trial in London, following a documentary”s claim that she had had an affair with Terre”Blanche, was Allen”s description of Terre”Blanche”s tatty green underpants, holes and all. Then the equestrian “leier” (Afrikaans for leader; or Führer) fell off his horse during some public grandstanding. Later he served a three-year jail sentence for assaulting a petrol attendant. In between, his followers drove an armoured car through the glass façade of the building in which white and black leaders were meeting to negotiate a post-apartheid settlement. As we know, they did not succeed.

The bad AWB (note the logo in the background!)

The bad AWB (note the logo in the background!)

The extent of the AWB”s grand delusion became apparent a month before South Africa”s first inclusive democratic election in April 1994, when these clowns “invaded” the homeland of Bophuthatswana (where Sun City is located) in a bizarre act of resistance to the impending formal death of apartheid. They were not even invited by the homeland”s puppet leader Lucas Mangope who had been trying to put down a civil service mutiny and retain “independence” for his fiefdom, but who by now had fled. The whole thing went down live on TV. A convoy of AWB herberts coming to the aid of the Bophuthatswanan regime and army which didn”t want them.

At one point, three racist invaders were interviewed on TV, having been wounded by a soldier”s bullets. Slumped against the wheels of their blue Merc they explained, nervously, to the assembled journalists what they were doing in Bop. Something like 20 minutes later, they lay on the ground, shot dead at point blank range, in front of the hacks, by a homeland soldier whom they supposedly came to liberate from approaching freedom. Don”t feel too sorry for the hapless trio: just before they had been shooting at civilians and tossing grenades about. The AWB”s militia had already killed at least 37 people the previous day, mostly soldiers. They later claimed having killed a hundred soldiers during their incursion.

These events of 15 years ago come to mind as South Africa is preparing to go to the polls on April 22 in the country”s fourth democratic, to elect as president the reptilian Jacob Zuma “” who thinks that having a post-coital shower is a useful method of Aids prevention and who has just succeeded in having corruption against him dropped. His election annoys me, as somebody who was active in the anti-apartheid struggle. Imagine how much it must vex Eugene Terre”Blanche.

And what better way to counter the racism of South Africa”s AWB with the funky music of Britain”s AWB. Three gloriously danceable disco tracks, a funk workout (Cut The Cake) and an Earth, Wind & Fire-esque ballad (A Love Of Your Own).

Average White Band – Atlantic Avenue (1979).mp3
Average White Band – Work To Do (1975).mp3
Average White Band – Let’s Go Around Again (1980).mp3
Average White Band – Cut The Cake (1975).mp3
Average White Band – A Love Of Your Own (1976).mp3

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  1. Garth
    April 20th, 2009 at 21:06 | #1

    A very interesting article! I knew little to nothing about either AWB, certainly prefer the band though :)

  2. April 23rd, 2009 at 04:25 | #2

    “Work To Do” is a cover of an Isley Brothers tune from 1972. Good tune, good version.

  3. April 23rd, 2009 at 11:46 | #3

    I like both versions in very different ways. I mean, I don’t think there’s a single Isleys song I dislike, but I think they have very different moods.

  4. April 28th, 2009 at 14:42 | #4

    I clearly remember a journalist from the UK’s Sunday Times describing in great detail how she met Terreblanche for an interview and ended up falling for his charms while they were standing under some magnificent tree. It read like a parody of the sloppiest romantic fashion, only with the hero a bearded Nazi rather than a dashing handsome prince. It was astonishing that they printed it. I recall seeing the Bophuthatswana invaders interviewed while lying wounded too, but strangely don’t recall them being shot a few minutes later. Maybe the BBC edited out the best bit.

  5. April 28th, 2009 at 14:59 | #5

    It’s quite possible that it was Jani Allen (who sued the Daily Mirror for claiming that she had had an affair with the man non-affectionately known as ET) who gushed thus while moonlighting for the London press.

  6. knowitall
    April 29th, 2009 at 15:02 | #6

    Just a few corrections. The underwear descriptions were made by Allan’s flatmate Linda Shaw who testified in the libel case brought against Channel 4. Allan didn’t win the libel case, but the courts weren’t able to prove whether or not there had been an affair. There were too many discrepancies or such at the time. Amongst other things, Allan’s flat was burgaled, her diary given to the defence and a friend mistaken for her lawyer was stabbed.

    It is true that Allan published a favourable interview with Terre’Blanche but that was with the SA Sunday Times. She did moonlight for the London Sunday Times, but ET doesn’t show up there, rather Charlton Heston does! Besides it is highly unlikely as Allan fled to London in ’89 soon after publishing transcripts in the SA Sunday Times of answer machine messages that ET had left. Allan had threatened to take out a restraining order and she had already survived an AWB-related bomb attack at her apartment complex.

    It wasn’t the Daily Mirror, Channel 4 was being sued in the big libel case. But Allan had already successfuly sued the London Evening Standard and Options magazine for similar claims. At the time, she had also issued writs against the Daily Mail and Sunday Telegraph. So perhaps that is where the Daily Mirror came from? The Guardian had to print a corrections retraction when they later published a story stating that she had sued the People in the big libel case. In fact, after her own libel case she was reporting for the London Evening Standard on another libel case that George Carman was serving in.

  7. knowitall
    April 29th, 2009 at 15:05 | #7

    +Forgot too add, she moonlighted for the London Sunday Times in 1990. The libel case that she reported on was against The People.

  8. April 29th, 2009 at 16:55 | #8

    Thanks for the corrections. A fascinating story. I remember the bomb attack now. I don’t think Allen did herself many favours PR-wise…

  9. knowitall
    April 30th, 2009 at 13:25 | #9

    No problem! I guess not, she was able to rehabilitate her career in SA when she returned. But she was very much at odds with the ANC so her options were limited when it came to a long future. She an Mbeki were even in a war of words when she appeared on American radio and wrote some material there. I have much more respect for her than another Sunday Times columnist, David Bullard. After years of bitching about the ruling party, he recently endorsed the party. I think it was just a cheap ploy to take heat off that column that got him fired.

    Her success peaked in ’87 when she was named ‘Most Admired Person in South Africa’. I guess today the poll would be across a wider racial spectrum and it would undoubtedly be Mandela that would win.

    It will be interesting to hear her take on things when she publishes her forthcoming memoirs.

    As for the bomb attack, all the windows of the complex 7 floors up were shattered. A neighbour, Debbi Rozowsky published a book about the post-traumatic stress and the solutions she sought. I think she is some sort of nationwide crime counsellor now.

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