Musician Zwai Bala has slammed a Port Elizabeth company’s decision to hold a disciplinary hearing following an employee’s refusal to stop wearing a traditional necklace.
Lubabalo “Suge” Jack was told by a Formex Engineering manager to take off a necklace made from a goat’s tail.
The necklace, called an intambo enkulu , is meant to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits.
Earlier this week, The Herald reported that Jack, 35, a laser technician supervisor at the Markman plant, was taken to task by managing director Hennie Venter, who ordered him to remove the necklace.
When he refused, Jack was charged with insubordination, with a letter stating that the necklace was a health and safety hazard.
Bala took to Facebook on Tuesday to air his displeasure.
He wrote: “I have seriously run out of patience. I mean, the comfort and the cheek makes me think the point has certainly not been made clear enough.
“All the social media ranting around racism is clearly not cutting it.
“I know of some churches that are strict on men wearing their ties.
“Sadly this is so familiar to them that they do not even recognise it as a foreign culture.
“Even more painful is how most of us keep quiet when a brother is disrespected and ridiculed for displaying his own (and your) heritage.”
Also weighing in on the issue was the Vusiwe Foundation’s Chief Jongisilo Pokwana Ka Menziwa, who said the foundation noted “with deep regret the continued persecution of African people on African soil by some Westerners who are hell-bent on reinforcing the colonial prism through which they want us to look and view the African culture, heritage and historiography.
“The necklace in question, which is also known as isiyaca or intambo enkulu, is very important as a ritual and those who practise it must be respected.
“While Jack could have taken steps to hide it under his clothes . . . it must not be imperative to do so because it is someone practising his culture and we are in Africa, not in Europe.”
He urged the South African Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Rights to step in.
The foundation undertakes historical research and has published books on oral history and initiating and running rural community development projects.
Formex human resources officer Busisiwe Yoyo said the company was not prepared to deal with company issues through the media.