In This Review

“We Are Not Scared to Die”: Julius Malema and the New Movement for African Liberation
“We Are Not Scared to Die”: Julius Malema and the New Movement for African Liberation
By Tiffany Thames Copeland
Peter Lang, 2021, 238 pp.

The career of the South African politician Julius Malema has won much attention. Once a firebrand leader of the youth wing of the African National Congress, he has since built his own party and social movement, the Economic Freedom Fighters, as a left-wing populist alternative to the increasingly decrepit ANC. Copeland’s new book has the merit of being the first in at least a decade to discuss Malema’s ideas and approach to politics. Her account is avowedly positive. The book discusses several important episodes in Malema’s political life, such as his break with the ANC in 2012 and the electoral emergence of the EFF in 2014, when it sent 25 representatives to the South African Parliament. One chapter approvingly describes the EFF’s use of social media and humor. Malema has typically been described outside South Africa as an anti-white populist, with few policy ideas other than the expropriation of white farmers’ land and the nationalization of corporate holdings in the country. Copeland insists that Malema’s political rhetoric has to be understood as performative and humorous, and as a form of distinctly Black rhetoric, bred by the country’s history of racism and neglect of its majority Black population.