South Africa: Ras Dumisani’s rendition of national anthem in France causes diplomatic row

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South African members of parliament, infuriated by a badly sung national anthem before Springboks and France clash have accused the reggae singer who “butchered the national anthem” on Friday night, of treason. Meanwhile, a tug of war between the French and South African rugby federations has seen the South African embassy in France implicated in an affair that has been deemed a sabotage. Ras Dumisani who sang the anthem is an experienced reggae artist. He claims he was sabotaged.

South African members of parliament, infuriated by a badly sang national anthem before Springboks and France clash have accused the reggae singer who “butchered the national anthem” on Friday night, of treason. The responsibility to sing the anthem was given to a reggae singer Ras Dumisani.

“It is treason! I don’t know how he could get onto the stage if he couldn’t sing the anthem. He is ready for retirement,” committee member and ANC MP, Litho Suka is quoted saying today. He said an apology alone was not good enough, and that the South African official who had recommended Dumisani to the French, should also be held accountable.


Dumisani, sang off-key and was not in tune to the music. Some accuse him of having “barked the national anthem”. The Springboks struggled to sing along with the well-known reggae singer, who, grew up in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal and now lives in France.

Dumisani said that the French were to blame for “sabotaging my performance with an old microphone and a bunch of school kids (…) I was in deep-deep trouble even before I started singing the anthem,” he said.

Oregan Oskins, SARU President said “Something went seriously awry in Toulouse and the upshot was that offence has been caused not just to the Springboks and Saru, but to South Africans in general”.

The Springboks lost the match and upon their return to South Africa, they reportedly launched a complaint with the SA sports federation. The South African Rugby Union (SARU) was prompt to react saying they were “shocked and horrified” by the performance of the national anthem.

Diplomatic row

The situation is fast degenerating into a diplomatic row between the two countries. The French authorities at the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) have been accused of being the silent partners in the national anthem “massacre”. This is due to the fact that the procedure followed by the French ahead of the performance was not clear, according to observers.

Meanwhile, the French authorities have rejected accusations made by the Springboks‘ coach, Peter De Villiers, who said that the French had not “respected” the South African national anthem. French coach, Jo Maso, told the press that they had chosen the reggae singer because he had been recommended by the South African embassy.

According to media reports, Shoyab Casoo of the South African embassy in France is said to have supplied the French rugby union with a list of South African artists as requested, but had not recommended a specific artist. “We just gave them the names of people we’re aware of. We didn’t know how well these people could sing” Casoo is quoted saying.

YouTube video

Monday, Dumisani apologised for “horribly singing” the anthem but blamed French organisers for sub-standard equipment. “I do apologise to the whole nation for doing something like that. I didn’t sing, I was just shouting and screaming. And I feel so sorry,” he told the media.

The controversy has reached reached feverishly high proportions in the Southern African nation where rugby is more regarded than football. Accusations are rife from the media, federations, unions of rugby fans, and an uncountable number of sources. A group called “Ban Ras Dumisani From Ever Singing Again” has been created on FaceBook and counts over five thousand members.

But who is Ras Dumisani?

According to Jean Barker of Channel24, Ras Dumisani is connected by blood to KwaZulu-Natal royalty. He recorded his first album, Zululand Reggae, in 1992 (Declic/Buesilver) with the great Mickey Dread (who worked with The Clash) and Dennis Bovell (engineer for LKJ and Alpha Blondy bass player). He was joined by the Afrikhaya (“Africa home”) band for his follow up album. He’s a popular hire for left-wing political events, and has many fans in France, the United States, England, Holland, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, Israel, and West Africa.” He has also “been connected to big names like local legend Lucky Dube.”

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