We have all seen the latest Nandos ad. And while many have appreciated the characteristic wit and play on words from Nandos, NOMALANGA MKHIZE is certainly not impressed. She explains why.
Can you imagine a politically witty Nando’s advert which depicts Black people getting back the land?
Of course not. No one expects corporates to be pushing the revolution.
But several years ago, Nando’s did an ad that portrayed Black South Africans as having no legitimate claim to the land.
You see, Nando’s put out what was ostensibly an anti-xenophobia advert in which the “progressive” satirical message was that “everyone is a foreigner”.
While looking to address xenophobia, it managed to accomplish quite something else.
It created a false equivalence between white and black South Africa.
In their advert, Nando’s repackaged the old settler ‘empty land’ myth that posits that Black Africans as not truly indigenous to southern Africa, and therefore had no basis to lay no claim to land.
The myth divides indigenous South Africans into ‘Bantu’, ‘Khoi’ and ‘San – rigidly separating ‘blacks’ from ‘Khoi’ and ‘San’- divisions which were not arguably so stark in precolonial times.
This goes to the heart of the issue: Many South Africans are still so uninformed about the details of the land question; it is a history that has been mostly narrated by white scholars.
By drawing on longstanding colonial discourse, Nandos missed, for example a more progressive Pan-Africanist view that posits that all Africans can lay claim to all of Africa. How might their satire have looked if they used that premise instead?
Now, one does not care much to give Nando’s a history lesson or make them politically correct.
But some of their adverts package white political imagination as universal satire.
And they have done this again with their latest cheesy ‘mixed race’ advert.
The ‘humour’ in this latest Nando’s advert is a play on the word ‘race’. The white woman character appears to be fretting over a ‘mixed race’ couple scenario; the payoff is that she is actually referring to a triathlon race.
Round of applause for Becky ya’ll – she does not see race; she is just an airhead!
Except, no, there must be no round of applause for Becky or Nando’s.
Because really that whole overzealousness to prove one does not see race is a disingenuous, exculpatory post-apartheid discourse that is overwhelmingly propagated by white South Africans.
The claim to not see ‘race’ is just patently absurd in South Africa, most especially when it is claimed by white South Africans whose social existence derives from political systems that invented the ideology of ‘race’.
Suddenly many white South Africans are eager to prove that not only do they not see race, they are in fact leaders of non-racialism, much like the protagonist in the Nando’s ad who even has a Black boyfriend – round of applause!
But again, no. No round of applause for dating a Black person, Becky.
There will be no congratulations for meeting very basic bare minimum requirements for being a normal, decent human being.
This reminds me of that DASO poster portraying a Black and white couple in a frigid, sexless embrace- a vision into the ‘post-race’ future DASO envisaged for us –there was so much of the rainbow nation, but not an ounce of sexual chemistry.
Another example was the #Colourblind campaign by University of Pretoria students which was premised on posing phenotypically Black and white students together in photographs to prove that they didn’t see colour.
— #WokeJozi 30 April (@Kat_Upendi) February 24, 2016
The real purpose of colourblindness is to delegitimise not just the claim to a Black political identity but by extension all the other political and material claims which follow, such as land.
And yet, non-racialism and anti-racism are inventions of the struggles of Black people.
These are concepts that are deeply vested with political and intellectual meaning of what it means to be human in the face of oppression.
Whereas Nandos thinks its approach is edgy, the decision to contest race is actually quite regressive, and challenges nothing; precisely how colourblind Becky would like it.
If they were really so hip and happening, Nando’s would know that current Black humour on ‘mixed race’ couples involves asking your white bae for that precious, precious land.