Tag Archives: African

Nando’s Diversity Advertisement Misses the Mark – Pulled by South African Broadcasting Corporation

This morning I came across some of the headlines from around the world and saw that Nando’s, a South African fast food restaurant chain, was in the spotlight again – this time for their new “Diversity” TV ad that has been pulled by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). This isn’t the first time their ads have stirred controversy. Just a few months ago, Nando’s pulled its popular “Last Dictator Standing” ad from TV in Zimbabwe where it jokingly featured the country’s own Robert Mugabe as one the foreign despots looking melancholic, seemingly realizing the time of his rule was coming to an end as he looked back on the memories of his fellow dictators who had all fallen out of power. The ad was withdrawn by Nando’s own management based on their concerns that it was creating an unsafe atmosphere for employees and patrons at their restaurants within Zimbabwe under the current political climate.

Continuing their efforts at promoting social change, Nando’s released its “Diversity” spot featuring the opening line: “You know what’s wrong with South Africa? All you foreigners.” Several ethnic groups are then named including Kenyans, Cameroonians, Zimbabweans, Botswanans, Europeans, Indians and Nigerians, showing them quickly disappearing into a puff of smoke. The ad then goes on to include Afrikaners and Zulus to point out that they too, no matter how long they have been present in the country, were once foreigners themselves. The final segment shows a Khoisan man, an aboriginal native of South Africa, who then proclaims: “I’m not going anywhere. You *$&!@#* found us here.”

Officially, the SABC cited that the commercial had the potential to incite attacks on various foreign groups or ethnicities if it were to be interpreted in such a way. After viewing the commercial, several members of the Culture Coach team found that the ad was unsuccessful in positively promoting diversity and inclusion and did not get across the desired message that everyone in South Africa naturally loves diversity because almost all of the country is a descendent of foreigners. While many will find the advert humorous and edgy, some may misinterpret it as being offensive or promoting xenophobia. I would not go so far as to say that it promotes xenophobia; clearly the ad is meant to be ironic. However, by the end of the ad, the viewer is left with an unresolved and negative feeling after having watched every race being “zapped” out, being cursed at by a Khoisan man with an attitude, and at the end, all of the hostility is justified with only a plate of chicken and fries. Perhaps it would have been more effective marketing if after they have “zapped” out all the foreigners, the ad ended with all the various nationalities and ethnic groups eating and enjoying the chicken together as a way to both tie in the catch phrase “Real South Africans love diversity” with the new diversity of menu choices. (Nando’s is itself of Mozambican-Portuguese origin) Then, perhaps the viewer would be left with a positive image of the people of South Africa being tolerant and diverse, instead of the image of people going up in smoke.

Such a serious and sensitive issue in a country that ended its own apartheid segregation less than 20 years ago should not be taken lightly as this ad would have many believe. While the attempt at bridging the gap between nationalities is to be commended, the style of the ad leaves the viewer with the opposite desired reaction and could therefore benefit from just an additional moment that would better tie in a scene of harmony between the various ethnic and national groups to prove its point.

Women’s History Month: Biography of Oprah Winfrey

While Oprah Winfrey may not come to mind as a historic figure during Women’s History Month as she is still often in the headlines for various reasons, she is to be revered for her lifetime achievements to this date, especially during Women’s History Month 2012 and its theme “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment.” Oprah is a significant contributor to education through her own foundation which has provided for hundreds of grants and millions of dollars for women’s education, particularly in Africa where her Academy is a great success for the rural poor. Oprah herself has been quoted as saying: “Education is the way to move mountains, to build bridges, to change the world.” She is truly a leader and visionary for women everywhere. Here is a brief biography of her that details her early life and commercial success.

Born as Orpah Gail Winfrey to a single mother in rural Mississippi in 1954, Oprah is considered by various annual lists and assessments to be the most influential woman in the world thanks in part to her success as the host for her multi-award winning talk show entitled “Oprah”, which was the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011.

In addition to her success as a TV personality, she is also known as an actress, producer and philanthropist. Along her way to success, Oprah set many firsts for a woman of color in the United States. She has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century,the greatest black philanthropist in American history,and was for a time the world’s only black billionaire.

Her career began in high school when she landed a small job in the radio business, and later at the age of 19, began anchoring Nashville’s local evening news and thus becoming the youngest and first African American anchor on the network. Her sincere and emotional delivery soon got her discovered by producers in Chicago, resulting in Oprah’s transition to the daytime talk show world. Within only a few months, she took over a slumping show and turned it from number three in the local ratings to number one.

Credited with creating a more intimate confessional form of media communication, she is thought to have popularized and revolutionized the tabloid news genre that broke cultural taboos and set the tone for the presentation of news for years to come. By the mid 1990s she had reinvented her own show with a focus on literature, self-improvement, and spirituality. She is often praised for her ability to overcome adversity and to inspire success in others.

In addition to her talk show, Oprah has created a media empire with past and present ventures including her radio talk show, Internet domain, and media publications including “O” magazine.  In 2011 she launched her own television channel called “OWN.” Because of this success, Oprah created the “Oprah’s Angel Network” in 1998 in order to support charitable efforts around the globe, having raised more than 80 million dollars to date. It has been estimated that Oprah has given more than 300 million dollars of her own fortune as of 2007, making her one of the most well recognized philanthropists of the decade.


Black History Month: The Life and Musical Legacy of Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul

February is Black History Month in the United States, and to celebrate our nation’s diversity, I have been posting short biographies of African-Americans. With only a few days left in the month, I wanted to make sure I posted a biography about a living legend in the African-American community: Aretha Franklin. A gifted singer, she has inspired many women over the past decades to pursue their musical dreams and to give freely of their wonderful talents. 

Aretha Louise Franklin was born in 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee as the third of four children of a religious and musically gifted family. Taking after her mother Barbara, a gospel singer in her own rite, Franklin showed a gift for music from an early age and was considered a child prodigy in her youth.

After her mother passed from a heart attack when Franklin was only six years old, her father Clarence moved the family to Detroit, Michigan where he began preaching at New Bethel Baptist Church. It was here that the largely self-taught Franklin began singing in front of her father’s congregation. Her piano playing skills and powerful voice lead to the recording of some of her earliest tracks at the age of just 14.

Having been recognized for her talents, Franklin began performing with C.L.’s traveling revival show, enabling her to meet some of the greatest gospel singers of the time including Sam Cooke and Mahalia Jackson. On tour, Franklin became exposed to the less glamorous aspects of fame. The following year she became pregnant, and only two years after that, she gave birth once more to her second child. At this time, Franklin took a hiatus from her music career in order to raise her newborn children.

Upon returning the music business in 1960, Franklin signed her first record deal with Colombia Records, releasing Right Now It’s Aretha in the same year. While her first albums under Colombia Records garnered her mild success with a few top 10 singles on the R&B charts, it was not until her move to Atlantic Records in 1967 that Franklin saw her status elevated to stardom.

The success of I never loved a man the way I loved you and its single hits including “Respect,” solidified her status for all time. The song climbed all the way up the pop and R&B charts to number one, garnering her two Grammy awards in the process. Later, Franklin would release a slew of singles from the same album that would become all-time classics such as “Chain of Fools,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman.”

Franklin’s success continued throughout the 70s, taking home eight consecutive Grammy awards for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance. For this accomplishment, Franklin earned the title “Queen of Soul.” 1985′s Who’s Zoomin’ Who  featured R&B, pop, synthpop, and rock elements and became Franklin’s first platinum-certified success. Hits such as “Freeway of Love” and a duet with George Michael “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” hit No. 1 on the pop charts, marking her appearance at number 1 for the first time on the Top 100 since “Respect” did so nearly twenty years prior.

In 1987, Franklin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming the first woman to be awarded such an honor. She has been recognized with several other awards for her soulful musical talents, but most importantly she inspired a generation of women to dream big in all walks of life.

Black History Month: Celebrating the Legacy of Wilma Rudolph

February is Black History Month in the United States, and to celebrate our nation’s diversity, I have been posting short biographies of African-Americans. Today I wanted to share a little bit about Wilma Rudolph and her short, but impressive career in Track & Field that would inspire a generation of young girls to pursue their athletic dreams. 

Wilma Rudolph was born prematurely into a family that already had twenty children by the time of her arrival in 1940. To further complicate things, Rudolph caught infantile paralysis (caused by the polio virus) early on in her youth. While she eventually recovered, she was required to wear a brace on her left leg that had become twisted as a result. Her childhood consisted of monthly trips between her hometown and Nashville, TN in order to treat her leg.

Rudolph’s short-lived career began at the age of twelve when she was finally able to cast off her brace and run like the other children. Following in the footsteps of her older sister, Rudolph joined the basketball team upon entering high school, eventually setting records for scoring and leading her team to the state title.

Her natural athletic abilities were recognized by Edward Temple, the Tennessee State University track and field coach at the time. While Rudolph had some experience on the high school track team, mostly to keep busy between basketball seasons, Temple recognized the ability to sculpt the raw athletic talent within her. While still in high school, Rudolph earned a spot on the 1956 US Olympic team, eventually coming home with a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 meters relay.

However, it was not until her years at Tennessee State where she became a household name. Rudolph would combine to break the world record in the 4 x 100 meters relay with her college teammates, setting the mark at 44.5 seconds. During the 1960 Olympics in Rome the previous summer before, Rudolph went on to win three gold medals, becoming the first African-American woman to accomplish such a feat at the time.

Rudolph became a sports superstar and the fasted woman of her time, celebrated around the world for her achievements. Upon returning home from the Olympics, she made numerous appearances on television and received several honors including being named the Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year.

While Rudolph retired from track just a few years later in her mid-twenties, her talents inspired a generation of children, especially young girls, to pursuit their athletic dreams. Her legacy can be seen in the popularity of track and field in the United States today.

For more information on Wilma Rudolph, please visit this site for more details and a list of further resources.

Holiday Spotlight: Kwanzaa December 26 to January 1

Kwanzaa, deriving from “Matunda ya Kwanza”, means “first fruits” in Swahili. Kwanzaa is the combination of different harvest festivals found in various African cultures from the Zulu in South Africa to the Ashanti in Ghana, incorporating all of the colors, styles, symbols, and values in between.

Historical Origin

The 1960’s were the climax of a long struggle for racial equality in the United States, and this was no exception for African-Americans. However, amidst all the tension, there remained a void in the community that needed to reflect strictly African-American values. In 1966, in response to the Watts riots in Los Angeles, a professor of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach named Dr. Maulana Karenga, looked for a unique way to unify African-Americans as a single community and he created Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa reflects African history and culture that was previously neglected by mainstream religious holidays.


The traditional candle lighting ceremony is at the center of Kwanzaa celebrations. The ceremony begins with the Tambiko, a form of homage to all ancestors. The eldest member of the household will then pour a bit of wine or juice onto the ground or into a vessel that is filled with earth to honor those family members who have passed. Once the elder has sipped from the remaining bowl, it is then passed to the family members while saying “Harambee” meaning unity, 7 times.  Candles are then placed in the kinara as follows: three red candles are placed on the left, representing the shed blood of the ancestors. Three green candles are placed on the right to symbolize life, earth, and future. Finally, a black candle is placed in the center to represent African people around the world. A new candle is lit for each day, alternating from left to right, starting on the 26th. Colorful, traditional African clothing is also popular to wear during the holiday week at home.

With each day comes a new value and it is common for people to ask in Swahili “Habari gani?” meaning, “What is new? The response depends on the principle that is associated with the day.

Day 1: Umoja (Unity)

Day 2:  Kujichagulia (Self Determination)

Day 3: Ujima (Collective Responsibility)

Day 4: Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

Day 5: Nia (Purpose)

Day 6: Kuumba (Creativity)

Day7: Imani (Faith)

There are also 7 symbols of Kwanzaa: the Mat, the Crops, the Corn, the Candles, the Candle Holder, the Unity Cup, and the Gifts. Children are the only recipients of gifts, and they are usually handmade.

Kwanzaa Foods

Fasting is common during the period as it is seen as purifying the soul. However, on the 31st a final feast is celebrated with many African or African diaspora inspired meals. Families may sit down to a table with catfish, jerk chicken/pork, Jamaican rice and peas, sweet potatoes, peanut soup, fried okra, pecan pie, or southern soul food.

Where is Kwanzaa Celebrated?

Kwanzaa has its origins in the United States and this is where it finds most of its participants. However, Africans all over the word do celebrate the holiday in small numbers. In the past decade, it has become common for diversity minded groups to celebrate the holiday, regardless of racial heritage.