News Brief

South African Radio Station Compares Black Child to Dog in Tweet, Issues Vague Apology

Radio 702 compares black child to dog in since deleted tweet.

One of South Africa’s top talk radio stations, Radio 702 rubbed South Africans the wrong way on Sunday.


In a since deleted tweet, the station asked people to choose who was cuter between a black baby and a dog. “Aaaw. Dog VS baby, who’s cuter? Go ahead evoke those broody feelings,” read the tweet, which was a caption to pictures taken during the station’ charity walk.

After the backlash, the tweet was deleted, and a vague apology was issued on the company’s website. The tweet was then changed to: “Aaaw! Babies and dogs participating in the #MTN702WALK will evoke those broody feelings.”

The company’s apology simply read:

“We apologize unreservedly for an offensive tweet published today.

“You have every right to be angry and offended. We strive to uphold the highest standards in our communication with you. Our mission is to communicate in a manner that builds social cohesion and a sense of community. In this instance we failed.

“We offended South Africans and are sorry. This does not meet the standards that we expect from ourselves.”

This angered South Africans even more, as the apology didn’t acknowledge the damage caused by the tweet, and the article didn’t even quote the tweet in question.

Radio 702 talk show host Xolani Gwala called out his bosses on the tweet and mostly for the vague apology. This morning on his show, Gwala said, “I have read this tweet over and over again‚ trying to understand what it could have been trying to convey. I just cannot make head or tail. I think ultimately it is despicable. It is distasteful for a company that is in the communication space‚ that tells people’s stories. Whoever tweeted this obviously just does not understand the sensitivities of people whose stories we are telling on this radio station.”

Omar Essack, CEO of Primedia Broadcasting, the company that owns 702, joined Gwala on air to apologize for the tweet. “In this country‚ we have a history where black people have been objectified over centuries, and that is wrong. So when we get to putting out a tweet in a way we did yesterday‚ there really is no other way to look at it‚ but to say we were wrong‚” he said.

Primedia Broadcasting will “sit down with the person responsible for the tweet and determine whether the tweet came from a place of naivety or racism,” said Essack.

Eusebius McKaiser, another host on 702, added on his show that the tweet triggers white supremacy and anti-black racism. “There are those who refuse to be empathetic in understanding the rage of those who are deeply offended by that tweet. I think that tells you a lot about the country we live in,” said McKaiser.

Below are some tweet responses from South Africans:

 

Film

Coming 2 America: New Yorkers in Zamunda

Coming 2 America: If one can sit through cringey "African accents" and take the elephants as hyperbole, they could score some laughs for nostalgia's sake.

Coming to America, originally released in 1988, is a cringeworthy watch in 2021. The cult classic opens with the song "Imbube" performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and shows the royal family of Zamunda living alongside elephants and zebras. Throughout the film, Africans are portrayed as savages who don't understand basketball, marvel at discarded glass and can't use mop buckets.

With its recently released sequel, Coming 2 America, which comes 32 years later, the film's original writers and director Craig Bowler had an opportunity to place the franchise on the right side of history. They try, but, for the most part, they fail.

Whereas Coming to America followed Africans as they navigate The Big Apple, in Coming 2 America, it's Americans who find themselves in Zamunda. They are the outliers whose slang, mannerisms and casual dress deem them the savages in a royal house of great mannerisms and dignified language.

Now the new king of Zamunda after the death of his father King Jaffe Joffer, still played by James Earl Jones, Akeem (reprised by Eddie Murphy 32 years later) finds himself in many similar situations that his father also faced in the original film. He gets to navigate outdated traditions he struggled against in his youth. Much like King Jaffe did when he used his power to allow his son to marry Lisa McDowell (still played by Shari Headley from the original movie) more than 30 years ago, Akeem has to exercise discretion while adjusting the royal rules that aren't aligned with the modern world.

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