South Africa’s Advertising Regulatory Board on Tuesday banned an advertisement that showed a black man discovering a foreign land in the 17th century and naming it “Europe”. The authority said that the advertisement by fast food chain Chicken Licken SA “trivialises an issue that is upsetting for many South African people”, AFP reported.
The regulatory board, in its order, said that colonisation is “not open for humorous exploitation”. “Turning the usual colonisation story around might be perceived as having a certain element of humour,” the ruling said. “The reality though is that colonisation of Africa and her people was traumatic.”
The commercial, which intends to sell Big John burgers, has been playing on South African television since November, Cape Town Etc reported. It shows a black man, called John Mjohnana, leaving his village in a boat in 1650, for the sake of adventure. After overcoming many obstacles, he arrives in Holland in 1651 and finds two white men looking at a map, setting out for a voyage. “Hello white people,” he greets them. “I like this place, I think I will call it... Europe.”
“His spirit was unstoppable, and his hunger was too big,” the narrator says. “Ja, Big Mjohnana did many things, but he will always be remembered for discovering a foreign land.” In the next scene, the man tells a black woman in a store: “And that is the legend of Big John.”
“It is well-known that many Africans were in fact forced to travel to Europe in the course of the colonisation of Africa,” the Advertising Regulatory Board said while banning the commercial. “They starved to death during those trips to Europe and arrived there under harsh and inhumane conditions.”
However, Chicken Licken SA disagreed with the ruling. “Chicken Licken’s tongue-in-cheek sense of humour is a tone that consumers have come to expect, but its communication’s underlying purpose is to create a sense of pride and patriotism among South Africans,” the company argued.