TV review – Mafikizulu and the has-been

2014-06-15 15:00

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After a three-year break, the MTV Africa Music Awards (Mamas) took place in Durban last Saturday with some of the biggest names in African music in attendance.

Screened live on the awesome MTV Base, this was the first time South Africa staged the event. It was hosted by US comedian Marlon Wayans (remember him?) who arrived on stage in a rickshaw.

Climbing out of it, he pointed at the man who had just pulled him on to stage and said: “This is my native African driver John.” After calling award-winning group Mafikizolo “Mafikizulu”, he explained: “I am African-American, my lips don’t move the same way?...?Imma be messing up names all night. It’s the white man in me...”

(Oh. That’s right Africa, on one of the biggest nights for your music and entertainment industry, hosted on your continent, you must settle for badly pronounced names.)

But also don’t take it too seriously because it’s “just a joke”. Got it.

Marlon came prepared with a formidable arsenal of “deepest, darkest Africa” jokes circa the 1980s. These even found a home for themselves in the short, prerecorded interviews shown between the live broadcast, when he interviewed some of the awards announcers and nominees.

In his interview with MTV Base veejay Sizwe Dhlomo, he had a wonderful time making random clicking noises, as the native does. One of the gems from his skit with Nigerian pop star Tiwa Savage was when he handed her a sweet and said: “You’ve probably never brushed your teeth?...?This is a sweet and you can give one to everyone in your village...”

Leon Schuster must have been proud. No one else has scraped the bottom of the

joke barrel quite like this. He threw every stereotype he had in there, and they let

him, complete with clapping his feet together at some point and interviewing DJ Zinhle with no pants or shoes on. After about the third skit, Marlon explained the jokes were a “critique” of US stereotypes.

Which is fair, but why do it for a crowd that knows we have electricity, roads, indoor plumbing and extraordinary inventions like toothbrushes?

Sure, the Mamas, which were broadcast across the world, are part of the global MTV brand, and have never had an African host. But these kinds of jokes in 2014? Make it stop. Please, make it go away.

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