Uyajola 9/9 uses black pain for ratings

Participants in one episode told Daily Sun that they were paid R20?000 to feature in the show, which they claimed was scripted
Participants in one episode told Daily Sun that they were paid R20?000 to feature in the show, which they claimed was scripted

Uyajola 9/9
Moja Love (DStv channel 157)
Sunday, 9pm

On May 26, local TV channel Moja Love aired the first episode of Uyajola 9/9 – a local “reality” series that exposes infidelity. The programme, modelled after the long-running US show Cheaters, is hosted by rapper Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye, former Papgeld presenter Moss Makwati and popular radio presenter Dr Love.

In the first episode, a woman finds out her partner is cheating on her with her younger sister. There is the customary catfight and exchange of four-letter words before the woman reveals to her cheating spouse that she’s pregnant with their child.

The second episode, aired on the same night, has, to date, been the most explosive. Bra Voice, the episode’s complainant, approached the show to investigate if his wife Titi Motie was cheating on him. He had long suspected that Motie, who makes her living selling atchar, was giving a neighbour more than the wares in her atchar bucket.

As it turned out, Motie was in fact cheating on Bra Voice with a guy a few houses down the street. What’s more, Bra Voice’s son is allegedly the result of his wife’s “liaisons” with the neighbour.

Recent episodes have followed a similarly melodramatic template. There have been confrontations at taverns and there have been street fights. Unsurprisingly, controversy has stuck to the show like white on rice. A week after it aired, a viewer called Kholofelo Masha started a petition to have the show removed from the channel, stating: “The show violates our privacy. It destroys families and lives in general.”

Cancel Uyajola 99

At the time of writing, the petition had 978 signatures – 22 short of its target.

There’s also the issue of whether the stories depicted are real to begin with. Members of the family featured in the second episode told Daily Sun the entire episode was scripted and they were paid R20 000 to feature in the production, an accusation the show’s producers deny.

But there is a bigger ethical question hanging over Uyajola 9/9: What’s the end game? What becomes of the people featured on the show once the cameras stop rolling and the mob of weekly audiences has had its appetite for drama fulfilled?

In a country with a femicide rate five times the global average, does Jub Jub’s “work” not demand a more considered approach? One that doesn’t involve his inferring the alleged cheater is a prostitute (as he did in the infamous atchar episode)?

To demand this from Moja Love would be insanity because, as they’ve shown with their suite of programming (think Papgeld, Isencane Lengane, Rea Tsotella), black people’s pain is nothing but tabloid fodder and trash TV.

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