SABC primetime shows portray blacks in negative light

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Recently, a tweet by Tumelo Mapaa went viral. This is what Mapaa said: “Yesterday I watched KykNET channels. All the shows are all about embracing the Afrikaner culture.

Whites aren’t portrayed as cheaters, criminals, deadbeat dads and witches. Black channels are fuelling black negativity stereotypes. What they are doing is dangerous to our society.”

This is something that has been bothering me. The content we are fed on particularly black channels is regressive. On the public broadcaster, we don’t use the time slot between 5pm and 7pm to air shows such as Daily Thetha and Yilungelo Lakho on SABC1.

As someone who works flexible hours, I have the luxury to channel hop when the majority of people are at work. So, I got intrigued by the two shows a few weeks back. It then got me thinking, why are these brilliant shows showing when the people they should be targeting are not at home?

After reading that tweet a few days ago, it dawned on me that this is deliberate. This is about the continuation of humiliating and dehumanising black people. Sadly, most of these TV shows are commissioned and approved by black people.

This must be changed. One of the primary mandates of the public broadcaster is to educate the nation. This should also translate into knowing about the working hours of the majority of the working class. Especially those who use buses, taxis and trains to get to work and back home.

Both shows discuss issues such as debt and dealing with it, marriage, divorce and its implications. Just the other day, I watched Daily Thetha with great interest as the hosts spoke to a panel of experts about the dangers of loans, and how, unknowingly, people can inherit debt through marriage.

When primetime comes, we see blacks portrayed in all ways that are illegal and criminal. These are shows watched by a lot of black people. The daytime TV programmes are really empowering. But the people who should be watching are at work or are looking for jobs at this time.

The people most likely to get into debt are at work at 1pm. The people who may be thinking of tying the knot are also at work then.

The majority still have to watch SABC TV with its limited choices.

I strongly believe that what we consume on TV should be the full responsibility of our public broadcaster. We have to relook how we influence minds, especially of the poor vulnerable.

Some people cannot afford pay-TV, the least the SABC could do is to empower them. Everybody is tired when they come back from work, but I bet nobody is too tired to watch a programme that aims to educate, to shine some light and give awareness on issues we grapple with daily in villages and townships.

In hindsight, it looks like the viewers of SABC1 and 2 don’t need to watch programmes that are intellectually stimulating, positive, constructive and mind-provoking.

From 2pm, we have shows such as Making Moves, followed by Soul Buddyz at 3pm which add value to the young ones. YoTV follows and Expressions. These are great shows to inspire teenagers. But what about the missing middle?

They too deserve programmes on TV that speak to them. We have to inform all the citizens of our country. Most importantly, as black people, we need TV content that is going to portray us in ways that will rebuild our society. We cannot continue to normalise watching dating shows, sensational soapies, and reality shows that are nothing but an exposure of our flaws. Black channels must fight negative stereotypes about us and not fuel them.

 - Chabalala  is the founder of the Young Men Movement.. E-mail him at  kabelo 03 chabalala

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