Many years ago, when I lived in Cape Town, I dabbled in comedy. Don’t laugh, I’m not trying to be funny here. I’m profoundly serious. To cut a rather long narrative short, comedian Desmond Dube had his own show on SABC2 many years ago. If I’m not mistaken it was called Dube on 2. It was a very popular programme but he created some controversy this one time (not at band camp) when he said in one of his sketches: “Shangaans are very ugly. In fact they’re so ugly it’s better to be a baboon than to be Shangaan.” I’m sure it was taken out of context but that was the phrase that was paraded around.

A storm broke out when a parliamentarian was so incensed she raised the issue in Parliament. Her angry speech made the news. I’m paraphrasing here but she said something along the lines of: “We’ve fought for this democracy. All people are equal, this stereotyping must come to an end.” Again I’m paraphrasing.

For reasons beyond my comprehension I got a call from SABC News, they wanted my opinion on the matter — they wanted to know what another fellow comedian thinks. I told them there were far better comedians out there than me to comment on the matter. I rattled off a list of names: David Kau, Kagiso Lediga, Loyiso Gola, Riaad Moosa. The list was long. “Yes we tried to get hold of them but they’re not available” was the self-esteem butchering response from the other end. I’m still going to therapy for that. Perhaps I should send my bill of R11 million to the SABC. As usual, I digress. Then I said “sure, come over” pretending not to be hurt by this insult.

They came to my office and there asked me to pretend I was typing something on my laptop, you know the shot they like. Another one they like is the walk towards your office shot. Another favourite is answering your phone. The viewer has no idea there’s no one on the other end of course.

Two days late they finally arrived with their cameras (mind you, it was only my third day at my new job). The producer asked: “So what do you make of what Desmond Dube said the other day and the parliamentarian’s reaction?”

I said: “Well, I know Desmond. He certainly didn’t mean what he said. There is no doubt in my mind about that. I mean how could he? Just take a look at Desmond, he could be Shangaan.”

The SABC was too chicken to broadcast that part of the interview.


Khaya Dlanga

Khaya Dlanga

Khaya Dlanga* By day he perpetuates the evils of capitalism by making consumers feel insecure (he makes ads). For this he has been rewarded with numerous Loerie awards, Cannes Gold, several Eagle awards...

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