BY ADEDIWURA OKELEYE
A lot of reactions have followed the removal of Caitlyn Jenner‘s docu-series, I Am Cait from DStv show listings. While many have applauded the action, many have condemned it too.
One of those opposing the action is Luiz DeBarros from Johannesburg, South Africa. Luiz has started a Change.org petition in a bid to overturn MultiChoice’s decision.
In the petition, DeBarros wrote,
“Demand that MultiChoice stops banning LGBT shows on the whims of Nigerian censors!
No matter where you are in Africa (including South Africa), you’ll no longer be able to watch Caitlyn Jenner’s reality show I Am Cait. South Africa-owned broadcaster MultiChoice has again shamefully put profit before ethics, erasing the programme from its pan-African schedule to appease homophobes and transphobes.
According to Nigerian media, the move followed “repeated complaints” in the country about the show, which has been lauded for highlighting transgender issues. It’s unclear if the banning was initiated by MultiChoice or if it was imposed on it by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Regardless, the show has been removed from all broadcasts across the continent, including in South Africa, as a result of complaints or a directive in one single country. Channel 24 reports that this is because there is only one E! channel feed for Africa. This effectively means that South Africans, for example, are now having censorship imposed on them on the basis of the dictates of one of Africa’s most homophobic nations.
In October last year, MultiChoice also dropped the acclaimed American reality series I Am Jazz, about a transgender teen, from its schedule across Africa after complaints from Nigerian viewers and threats of censorship. It is possible that MultiChoice may have had no choice in dropping I Am Cait, if it was officially banned by the NBC. If that is the case (and this is not yet confirmed), I believe that as a South African-based company MultiChoice has the obligation to fight this directive.
At the very least it should appeal the banning and/or take the matter to the Nigerian courts and it must publicly condemn the actions of the NBC. It should not be kowtowing to censorship and bigotry that will place it on an increasingly slippery and precarious slope.
Instead of enlightening its viewers, MultiChoice is allowing bigotry and prejudice to flourish, supporting anti-democratic values and putting LGBT Africans deeper into the closet.”
The petition has been signed so far by over two hundred people.
Bisi Alimi, popular Nigerian-born LGBT activist is a strong supporter of Luiz DeBarros’s cause. He said in an interview with Mic, “I believe that when change is happening, a tiny minority who have the loudest voices will always push against it, it doesn’t mean that change will not happen. What we’re seeing is their own apprehension and fear of the change that’s already happening. They might have the power now, but they won’t have the power for long.“