While a large crowd of supporters turned out at the Pharrell Williams protest outside Grand West on Monday, the number was not nearly as close as the 60 000 people BDS South Africa anticipated in the lead up to the day. Nevertheless, supporters donned their Palestinian colours of red, black, white and green as people from all walks of life chanted for freedom and an end to the Israeli occupation.
Spearheading the BDS SA campaign against Woolworths, Kwara Kekana spoke in a celebratory tone as supporters stood outside, braving the cold weather. Kekana encouraged the spirit of Ubuntu and said the campaign should be celebrated as the protest action against the Grammy-award winning artist marks the first ever action against a musician in South Africa.
“This protest is a celebration but it is also to call on all global citizens to join us on the picket lines in calling for a free Palestine,” Kekana told supporters.
PASSOP’s Braam Hanekom says that regardless of the outcome, the campaign has already made history in South Africa.
Meanwhile, young supporters of the #BoycottWoolworths campaign shared their concerns for other young people who continue to support the singer, Pharrell Williams. Williams, an American singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer and fashion designer has produced numerous hit singles, including the popular single ‘Happy’. Capetonians even participated in a parody video to the song, along with other cities in the world, which became a global phenomenon.
“Sometimes we as youth get caught up in our own lives and we forget that there are thousands of Palestinians suffering under the Israeli regime. I used to listen to Pharrell’s music but once I heard that he has now signed up with Woolworths I lost all my respect for him as a musician,” Yusuf Patel explained.
A number of speakers took to the main stage outside the entrance of the Grand West arena on Tuesday evening, echoing the same sentiments for unity and solidarity. Representatives from all faith based communities in Cape Town were represented along with civil society organisations aimed at highlighting the effects of the Israeli Apartheid on Palestine.
“How can Pharrell and Woolworths claim to be helping the youth of South Africa when one child dies in Palestine every two hours?” BDS SA’s Muhammed Desai added. (VOC Ra’eesah Isaacs)