TUMI MORAKE, FACEBOOK AND RACISM

Allow me to give some back-ground dear reader; Tumi Morake is a radio personality – amongst a number of other things such as being a stand-up comedian, actor etcetera – on a popular regional radio breakfast show in sunny South Africa. I too, am a listener to this station.

This morning there was a discussion live on air about culture and race.  I fortunately or unfortunately missed this programme.  However, arriving home and checking my Facebook, the posts screaming boycotts and racism ranged from personal attacks on the woman to irrelevant and hateful references and comparisons to unrelated incidents from the past.

Not having any idea of what actually transpired to solicit the standard war of words on social media, I quickly googled the lady’s name.  Oh my Gosh!! It was bigger news than the Donald becoming president of the USA! It even surpassed THE SPUR INCIDENT – remember that one? Finding an official response from the radio station, I came across an audio clip recorded in the after-math of the conversation that led to the outcry by the deeply offended listeners.

Interestingly enough, I also saw a comment by someone who does not actually listen to the particular station but thought it necessary to join the attack, totally clueless of what actually happened.

I was really gobsmacked by a number of posts and reactions. My favourite are the ones that start with “I am not a racist but…” In the audio clip mentioned, Tumi Morake said ‘….being pro-black does not mean I am anti-white…”  Good for you Tumi. It’s like saying “….being pro-life does not mean I’m anti-abortion…” We’ve seen what these issues resulted in back in the good old US of A: violent street protests as bad as our own service delivery protests.

A few of the posts addressed the incident in terms of things not to say or talk about on air.  I find this almost as disturbing as the racist comments.  Last I checked we have freedom of expression, association and speech to name but a few of our constitutional rights.  Hate speech, however, is not allowed.  As far as I could determine, Tumi Morake did not make any racist comments nor did she say anything hateful.  Interesting then that the reactions were mostly seriously racist and hateful.

Having these freedoms guaranteed by the constitution also means that you can choose to switch to another frequency, listen to a CD or just turn the radio off.  No one forces you to listen to anything you do not want to.

Furthermore, there is something called the Independent Broadcasting Complaints Commission in this beautiful country of ours.  But then again, I am expecting people to take up a grievance in a mature and responsible manner.  Way too much to ask I suppose.  It is much less effort to spew venom on Facebook and reveal your true colours.

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Johan van Zyl

I was born on 6 June 1961, six days into the new Republic of South Africa and the 17th anniversary of D-Day.

For the moment I am employed in the private Sector as a Logistics professional, residing in Johannesburg – where I was born and bred.

Apparently there are only two types of people in the world: those who make things happen and those who wonder what the hell just happened.

I am an aspiring novelist – aren’t we all – and love to wonder about the simplicity as well as complicity that make us human, although I sometimes wonder if we have really evolved from being single cell organisms.

I love life as well as a handful of people. Next to being outdoors, reading and writing are high on my priority list.

I love company, even my own – sometimes.

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