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Franchise Chicken Licken's 'Big John' Advert Has Been Banned for Making a 'Mockery of the Struggle Against Colonialism'

The advert which humorously depicts the colonialism of Europe instead by a Black South African explorer has been banned by the Advertising Regulatory Board.

Chicken Licken, a South African fried chicken franchise, has had its most recent television advert banned by the South African Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) following it's ruling that the advert makes a 'mockery of the struggle against colonialism'.


The advert in question shows a customer of the franchise telling the story of the adventures of a Black South African explorer circa 1650 known as John Mjohnana or 'Big John'. Big John overcomes with great triumph the multiple threats that he faces with nature. When he eventually arrives on the shores of a strange land and meets its White inhabitants, he then decides to call the strange land Europe. The advert borrows from South African history which witnessed the arrival of Dutch colonizer Jan van Riebeeck on the Cape shores in 1652.


Legend of Big John™ youtu.be

All African countries save for Ethiopia and Liberia, were colonized by the West. South Africa is no different and in fact was colonized twice, firstly by the Dutch who were then followed by the British. Colonization involved the brutal exploitation and murder of the Khoi, San and Bantu people in South Africa - an era of unspeakable atrocities. That said, one must ask whether the decision to ban the advert is appropriate or fair. Is it that the advert is not immediately offensive because it is understood what it is trying to humorously convey and that following deeper interrogation, it actually is offensive?

Whilst the ARB noted that the advert may be 'perceived as having an element of humor', it went on to say:

"Atrocities suffered by Africans under colonization are well documented and the legacy thereof continues to exist to date. This experience can never be rewritten differently and cannot be trivialized in any manner," the body said in its ruling."

Perhaps, as two Twitter users point out, the reason as to why the Big John advert has been deemed offensive is because the tables have been turned and a Black man is now at the helm of power instead of a White supremacist.



One must also wonder at whether the issue here is not that of white fragility. Is it possible that White people are the ones who have been offended by the advert under the guise of Black outrage? Another Twitter user suggested that the individual who filed the official complaint with the ARB, Sandile Cele, is perhaps not even who they say they are and that their identity should be verified.


The ARB ruled that the advert be pulled from local screens with immediate effect pending significant editing by Chicken Licken. However, seeing that the theme for the advert from beginning to end is colonialism, there will probably be no edited version to be released following the original.


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Image: Ian Watts

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