Shangaan Jesus video outrage

2012-06-09 00:00

THE man behind a controversial animation depicting Jesus as a Shangaan has expressed shock at the reaction his video has caused.

Mdu Ntuli, creator of the YouTube cartoon, is facing a possible probe by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) after a complaint from a Pretoria woman that it is offensive.

“In the townships, people are always making fun of each other’s nationalities,” Ntuli told The Witness.

In the cartoon Jesus goes to the doctor after injuring his toe. The doctor then tells him that after analysing his DNA, he is not related to God and that he is, in fact, Shangaan.

Jesus takes this badly and attempts to wash off his “Shangaan-ness” to no avail, after which he decides to leave a suicide note.

The video has attracted over 50 000 hits on the video sharing site.

The complainant, Caroline Sithole (32), said in her statement to the SAHRC that the cartoon brought back a lot of the pain she felt from being ridiculed by classmates while she was growing up.

“It is sad that in this democratic South Africa you still have people who really believe Zulus or other tribes are more superior than Shangaans and that Shangaans are non-human or sub-human,” Sithole was quoted as saying in The Times.

“I hated going to school because I was Shangaan. I will not be ridiculed again in a democratic South Africa because of people like Mdu Ntuli, who think they are a better race than others and perpetuate these stereotypes.”

Ntuli denied the cartoon was about Zulus mocking other tribes.

“I was trying to show how ridiculous the township stereotypes are. I’m Ndebele, not Zulu.

“There’s nothing that suggests Zulus are more superior to Tsongas,” Ntuli said.

He said the complaint was the first he had received since he started with his Izikhokho Show that satirises religion and politics, among other things.

“It is just one person who is complaining. She is not the leader of the Shangaan people. I am still waiting to hear from the SA Human Rights Commission.”

SAHRC spokesperson Vincent Moaga told The Weekend Witness they were still assessing the complaint, and would take the necessary steps once this had been done.

Ntuli uses the same Jesus character in another YouTube video that depicts the son of God dressed in an ANC robe, collecting money from “Zuluboy” for the Father.

Jesus then starts taking all Zuluboy’s household items and clothes, putting everything into a red bag.

The clip ends with his eyes lighting up when he sees an electric toothbrush.

“That one was inspired by Jacob Zuma when he said that the ANC will remain in power until Jesus comes back,” Ntuli said.

ANC spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said the party had noted the clip circulating on YouTube.

“We will analyse the clip in due course, and after we have studied it, give it our full attention,” he said.

“We will issue a statement after we have applied out minds to it.”

Ntuli said he had been getting positive feedback on his cartoons, and had even been approached by DStv, possibly to have his Izikhokho Show produced for television.

DStv was unable to confirm this at the time of going to print.

Ntuli started his company, Mdu Comics, in 2003 and has produced cartoons for Avusa and Urban Brew.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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