November 16, 2009 / 2:27 PM / in 8 years

S.Africa embassy denies fault in anthem outcry

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A controversy surrounding a South African singer that critics say “butchered” the national anthem ahead of a rugby test against France continued to grow on Monday, prompting the embassy to deny involvement.

South Africa’s embassy in Paris on Monday dismissed suggestions that it recommended Durban-born reggae singer Ras Dumisani to the French Rugby Union.

Newspapers have lambasted Dumisani and radio shows have been inundated with angry callers, decrying his rendition of “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” ahead of the France-South Africa match in Toulouse on Friday that left many in the crowd laughing and players furious.

Business Day newspaper quoted former Springbok star Naas Botha as saying the anthem, sung off-key and often using the wrong words, may have contributed to the world champions’ 20-13 loss.

The Star said fans had set up a Facebook page entitled “Ban Ras Dumisani from ever singing again”.

The South African Rugby Union has written its French counterparts over its “dismay” over the performance.

South Africa’s embassy in France said in a statement it had taken note of media reports that it had recommended the singer to the French authorities.

”The Embassy had no subsequent dealings with any of the parties and rejects all claims that the embassy chose or imposed the singer.

“This was entirely the responsibility of the hosts,” it said, adding it had also noticed that the country’s flag had been hung the wrong way.

The embassy said it had been asked for details of South African singers based in France and had given Dumisani’s agents name but had not vouched for his credentials or competency.

“This was not a recommendation from the embassy since the embassy had no previous exposure to his performances nor is he a renowned performer.”

Dumisani was quoted as saying he thought his performance was “beautiful”, but later told local radio station 702 it was the equipment’s fault.

“The microphone was a very old one, a cordless one and then they gave me a very old monitor to put it on my waist and I thought it was distorted,” he said.

Dumisani, who is living in France, had been relatively unknown in South Africa.

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