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The missing piece in Searching for Sugarman

The biggest problem with the story searching for Sugarman, is that the reception in South Africa was not amongst anti-apartheid white youth. Sure there were anti-Apartheid white youth and I’m sure they heard Rodriguez in the course of everyday life - but they weren’t necessarily the one listening, using and appropriating Rodriguez in the seventies and early eighties. In South Africa Rodriguez was the oppositional music of white jocks, rugby payers, 'playas' and bullies at school, and of white young male conscripts in the apartheid army and the fascist police force. It was the fuel that stoked their inhumane behaviour towards black young South Africans’ during the Soweto uprising and to resisters to apartheid’s brutality. Isn’t it ironic that Rodriguez strong message about justice for the working class oppressed masses should find resonance amongst those who were in fact the oppressors in South Africa? This missing piece of the story needs to be told. It will not be the first time that popular culture is appropriated and used for unintended ends.

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