I could not control my laughter while watching a South African TV Advert, on a group of black tribal people and their king. I have always thought the act of having tribal people carrying their kings about, to be something limited to us in Ghana, until I watched this humorous advert.
The advert just confirm how unreasonable a people could be while hiding behind the guise of tradition, in the face of non traditional realities of the modern day world.
Different people understood the advert differently and so it caused a lot of racial tension across the Southern Africa region, leading the SADEC authority to persuade the South African government to remove the advert from circulation. I clearly remembered myself seeing everything wrong with the advert at the time. I remembered organising a demonstration to vent our anger towards what we considered as a racist attack on our culture. It was indeed a matter of Black versus the white to me, at that time.
Some new revelations on this forum is giving me a second opinion. I find myself asking the question of whether being black means being traditionally unreasonable? I then started realising that an average black person misinterprets culture, to mean anything traditional and therefore acceptable, while anything non traditional, is consider as non cultural and therefore alien.
The advert started with a group of white explorers travelling across the Southern part of Africa. In the course of their journey, this white people came across a very large river over which they have to build a bridge, to cross. The whites then built up a camp to settle down for some months, in order to construct a bridge across the river.
While the work was going on, a group of black people came along carrying their king and singing their war songs, threatening to kill anyone that come near their king. The song caught the attention of the camped white group, who then rushed out to see what the new arrivals are up to. The black people then stopped by the river, set to swim across it, still with the king raise high in a structure that look like a palanquin.
The river was dangerously strong and over flowing its banks, because it was a wet season. The tribal people, taking instruction from their king, who appeared comfortable and balance in the palanquin, start daring to cross the river. This has been their way of dealing with this river for thousand of years, and across countless generation, to which they were not prepare to back down this time, even if the king will be the only one to survive.
The white people quickly saw an opportunity of capturing the black people and their king, to use them as labour force to build the bridge. The blacks resisted but only for a short time, as the king quickly saw the potential of the whites superior fire power and likely hood of having every one of his subjects kill by the whites.
So, by the command of the king, the tribal people started cooperating. The bridge got completed in less time than scheduled, as the blacks work very well, day and night. After the completion of the bridge, the white men thank the tribal people for their help and to show more appreciation, they gave the blacks one of their jeeps, to use it in carrying their king about. The whites then got one of them to briefly drive the king about in the jeep, to show the blacks how to use the machine.
The advert then show the black people, putting the palanquin still containing the king into the jeep. They then carry the jeep over their shoulder, high in the air, walking across the bridge, singing their war songs and pointing their spears into the air. The group advanced on until the whole procession vanished into the think forest.
The advert them concluded with caption “WHATEVER YOU DO TO THE BLACK MAN, HE SHALL FOREVER BE BLACK”.
Kofi Ali Abdul-Yekin is the Chair/Coordinator of ECRA (ECOWAS Citizens Right Advocate) you can reach him at
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