Comedian Trevor Noah has been accused of promulgating anti-African propaganda after he mocked a contentious South African opposition figure.
Noah, who is himself South African, has aired some inflammatory comments by Julius Malema, the leader of the country's third-biggest political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Malema has been sued in the past for inciting hate and violence against the white minority.
"If you think Trump is bad, wait until you see how Julius treats the press," Noah said in a recent episode of the Daily Show.
“Julius Malema talks about genocide like he’s remodeling his kitchen.”— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) 10 мая 2019 г.
If you think Trump is bad, meet South Africa’s anti-establishment politician. Full piece: https://t.co/vGpwtWoaZb pic.twitter.com/A8SRsRSLAR
In the video compilation shown by Noah, Malema was seen ripping into journalists and telling people to randomly shoot lawmakers, whom he referred to as "thugs and criminals".
In a fragment of a 2018 interview, Malena was heard saying: "We have not called for the killing of white people — at least for now. I cannot guarantee the future".
"Goddamn!" Noah reacted, "he just speaks about genocide like he's talking about remodelling his kitchen!"
His skit, however, has received a mixed reaction on social media, with some South African users contending that Malema's statements were taken out of context.
This is all out of context, and the Trevor knows this but if it'll amuse the Americans for a second then let's go with it, these clips are manipulated and shame on Trevor, this reeks of desperation… smh.— You Guys Kill Me (@Sthe_Dups) 10 мая 2019 г.
I am not EFF member or fan but I knows what Jujus agenda is/ or based. He is a revolutionary n uncompromising leader of black consiousness. This is not a joke, these clips r incomplete so when u don't have a clue what was happening u will judge him wrong. Trevor u r not special💔— Bheko_Nxumalo (@Bheko_N) 10 мая 2019 г.
Although a number of people have leapt to Noah's defence, some have accused him of spreading propaganda.
"Trevor Noah is now being used by the US to disseminate Propaganda against our own African leaders?" wrote a commenter. "He's actually doing more damage to our African reputation by perpetuating African stereotypes. Julius Malema is not my fave but this is unacceptable, all this for a few white laughs?"
Using your influence to spread propaganda, Trevor Noah is trash. https://t.co/lAqomBneoG— Karabo Bidi (@iKaraboBidi) 10 мая 2019 г.
The problem is not that Trevor Noah made jokes about Julius. Stop missing the point intentionally.— M. Night Shabalala (@NqanaweLIVE) 11 мая 2019 г.
The problem is that how he delivered that bit made it come off as if it is true that Black people really are outchea mass-murdering White people and he didn't even clear that up.
In 2012, Noah shared a photo on Facebook in which he is seen standing alongside the EFF leader. "Hanging out with my best friend Julius Malema. He looks so handsome today. Here's a picture of us," reads the caption.
Incidentally, in March Noah had a cordial meeting with South Africa's President, Cyril Ramaphosa at the national parliament.
"I had a moment to chat to him about his work. I was particularly impressed about the foundation that he's set up to work on education which is run by one of his colleagues, Charlene, so we applaud him for ploughing back into the country once again," Ramaphosa told the MPs.
Noah's visit came two months ahead of the general election in South Africa, and Malema suggested that the comedian coordinated it with the president.
He was part of their campaign plan.— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) 10 мая 2019 г.
The EFF leader's 'white genocide' remarks have previously sparked public outrage, prompting the F. W. de Klerk Foundation, a non-partisan group advocating democracy in South Africa, to lodge a complaint with the country's Human Rights Commission.
However, the commission found in March that the context of Malema's statement meant it did not appear to amount to hate speech.
"It is not about how they are behaving now. Mr Malema also specifically says he is not calling for the killing or slaughtering of white people now. He is only calling for the occupation of their land," said the ruling. "Viewed in its context, the statement does not appear to amount to hate speech."
South Africa held its general election on Wednesday; Ramaphosa's ruling party, the African National Congress, won an absolute majority of votes (over 57 percent).
The Democratic Alliance was second with 20.7 percent of votes, while the EFF came in third with less than 11 percent, making it the fastest-growing party at this election.