Colonialism was a no-go zone for advertising humour, the appeal committee of the Advertisting Regulatory Board (ARB) has ruled. The committee upheld an earlier ruling that the 'Big Mjohnan' Chicken Licken ad was offensive and must never be aired again, notes TimesLIVE.

The committee, chaired by Advocate Gcina Malindi SC, said colonialism was a no-go zone when it came to humorous or glamorous depictions. Colonialism came with 'attendant crimes and devastation in the forms of genocide, murder, maiming, sexual abuse, slavery, and subjugation of the native populations of the colonised countries,' the committee said in its ruling.

In the advert, a young man called Big Mjohnana sails away from his village in 1650 to satisfy his hunger for adventure. The following year, he 'discovers' Europe and a man looking like Jan van Riebeeck. The ARB banned the ad in December 2018 after viewer Sandile Cele complained it 'makes a mockery of the struggles of the African people against the colonisation by the Europeans in general, and the persecutions suffered at the hands of the Dutch in particular'.

Pepe Marais, the founding partner of advertising agency Joe Public, told the appeal committee in January that the ad did not allude to slavery and colonialism, but was about an adventure meant to inspire South Africans.

But the appeal committee said by depicting colonialism the ad crossed the same line as those who might use the Holocaust, human trafficking, sexual violence and murder as a source of humour.

'There can be no plethora of evidence that will make it reasonable and justifiable to attack and erase a people's dignity by satirising sexual abuse and violence, human trafficking, murder and genocide.'

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