Monday, April 30, 2007

The Sowetan's (bad) dream

In 1963 Martin Luther King gave his famous 'I have a dream' speech, a stirring vision of a day when freedom and liberation would reign in the then segregated United States.

With the celebration of Freedom Day in South Africa on April 27, The Sowetan, a newspaper mainly serving readers from Soweto, launched an ad campaign borrowing from King's speech. However, it deliberately twists the message into one of despair and black (no pun intended...) humor. Thus instead of dreaming of a day of freedom and liberation, it instead 'dreams' of dark days of murder, rape, racial injustice, crime and grime. The narrator in the ad uses the sermon-like style of Martin Luther King, with a hint of an American accent, but the dialogue and accent remains clearly recognizable as South-African. The punch line challenges the listener with a question:

"What have you done with your freedom South Africa? Don't let it go to waste. Cherish it"

Calling the ad brilliant is perhaps over the top. It's not the most original idea ever 'dreamt' up. But it is brave, a quality that one would like to associate with our news media.

So when the SABC banned the ad it just added to a growing discomfort with the public (state?) broadcaster. Surely the powers that be at the SABC have the brains and insight to understand that the Sowetan's ad does not amount to hate speech (as it implied)? What is the SABC doing to our freedom in South Africa? It seems more and more that for the SABC our freedom does not include the free flow of information?

Oh no, our big broadcasting brother will protect us against unsavory information. It is our good fortune that the SABC has a strong ideological base. It will protect all of us, who are not mature enough to do so for ourselves, against the bad bad bad (anti-revolutionary) ideas out there. Heil the SABC! Heil the ANC! Heil Mbeki! HEIL SNUKI*!

*Ok, I know Snuki wasn't necessarily involved this time round, but heil Snuki anyway...

No comments: