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This week has brought yet more unwanted South African drama for U2's Bono. When the rock singer drew comparisons between sentiments expressed in an anti-Apartheid song and the Irish republican songs he sang as a youth, controversy erupted.

Bono, who is in South Africa for a U2 concert in Johannesburg, was commenting on a controversial South African song that includes the line “shoot the Boer” meaning “shoot the farmer”, a line that has resonated strongly after the shocking murder of Eugene Terreblanche, the white separatist leader killed on his farm by two black employees.

Bono told the press: “I was a kid and I’d sing songs I remember my uncles singing, rebel songs about the early days of the Irish Republican Army,” he told the newspaper. “We sang this and it’s fair to say it’s folk music as this was the struggle of some people that sang it over some time.”

But activists for South Africa’s white Afrikaner population argue that the lyrics amount to hate speech and should banned from public broadcast. Bono agreed that such songs could be incendiary.

“Would you want to sing that in a certain community? It’s pretty dumb,” he said. “It’s about where and when you sing those songs. There’s a rule for that kind of music.”

U2 are in South Africa as part of their world tour. A spokesman for Bono insisted the Irish singer’s comments were quoted out of context. “If you read the actual transcript, it is clear that Bono’s intention was not as has been reported,” she said.

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