This past weekend, having arrived just three days prior, Marlon Wayans rolled onto the stage in a blinded out rickshaw in Durban, South Africa and hosted the 2014 MTV African Music Awards (MAMA). The show was broadcast on MTV Base across sub-Saharan Africa for the first time and returned to the tv screen after a three year hiatus.
It was a beautiful showcase of the talent located on the continent. Really, you’ll have to look at the video below for some of the highlights, it was gorgeous. Musicians Nigeria’s Davido and Tiwa Savage won best male and female artist and South Africa’s own Mafikizolo took home the award for best group. And after watching just a clip of the show’s highlights, I can tell you that the fashion, from the performers to the presenters was absolutely stunning.
But the evening was tainted by several jokes made by Marlon Wayans. While some claimed Wayans delivered his typical brand of humor, others found it distasteful and stereotypical. There were moments when he played off of his ignorance using clips depicting him as a clueless American reporter but ThisIsAfrica.com, blasted Wayans, suggesting that maybe his ignorance wasn’t all that much of an act. They likened some of his comments to Rick Ross speaking about the “beautiful country of Africa.”
They chalked his performance up to “Another American hits African soil without much clue about where they are landing.”
In addition to mispronouncing words like Nairobi, ThisIsAftica wrote:
“He trundled out crappy stereotype after insult – telling the audience that he’d seen butts that made Kim Kardashian look like Miley Cyrus, going on about how many marathons Africans win and getting in jokes about cannibalism, clicking languages and how he might have fucked a lion the night before.”
Yes, it was that bad.
Instead of tapping someone from the continent to host the show and several African thinkers, leaders and entertainers expressed their distaste.
R&B singer, Nigerian Banky Wellington
Kenyan tech expert and social activist Ory Okolloh was more blunt with her criticism.
But despite Wayans’ blunders there were moments like the collaborative performance between Trey Songz anad D’Banj. There was a mashup of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Uhuru which the crowd loved.
ThisIsAfrica just chalked Marlon’s offensive performance to apathy.
“The man is not stupid, which implies that the skimpiness of his performance and the wealth of stereotypes was just because he wasn’t bothered about what impression he made.”
This is particularly unfortunate when an African celebrity could have done a better job. Instead it seemed like a poor attempt to give the African event international credibility by employing an American face. But it backfired.
As a Marlon Wayans fan, even I might have known that this wasn’t going to go well. His brand of humor is very juvenile and never, or rarely, errs on the side of sensitivity. Not only is this terribly embarrassing, it’s just more tragically sad evidence of how disconnected many African Americans, despite wealth and access, are from the continent.
But Marlon didn’t stop the show, check out some of the highlights from the evening in this video below. And check out the full list of winners on the next page.