Simon tour defeats purpose

Singer Paul Simon and his old partner, Art Garfunkel, once sang about it, but Simon now finds himself building his own bridge over troubled water. The question now is when it will break.

Simon is the first worldwide star to tour South Africa after a cultural boycott was lifted. Most recently acclaimed for mixing African sounds, rhythms and performers with his own rock music, one would expect the tour would be a hit.

Unfortunately, Simon’s presence is only helping to further separate whites and blacks and is dividing the black population.

According to reports, many militant black organizations think the cultural boycott never should have been lifted unless a black government can be installed. It’s definitely affecting Simon’s tour.

At the opening show, between 40,000 and 45,000 fans went to the show, although promoters expected at least 60,000. Simon’s Johannesburg show attracted only 20,000 to a stadium that seats 70,000.

What’s more, most of the concert-goers are white. The few blacks who show up tell reporters they’ve come despite threats from other blacks.

It’s apparent this tour is doing nothing more than inciting problems rather than calming them. It’s true that music soothes the savage beast, but the beast of racial tension in South Africa is too big to listen.

Maybe the best thing Simon could provide the troubled country with is the sounds of silence.