South Africa


South Africa’s 24-hour trend report: 19 August 2020

South Africa’s 24-hour trend report: 19 August 2020

This is a summary of the trending, highest impact, and most active themes and their narratives related to social cohesion and division in South African public-domain social media conversations on 19 August 2020.

Feeding racism?

Many Twitter users reflected on the impact of language in shaping society on Wednesday, 19 August. Earlier in the week, TV personality @MinnieDlamini had shared a selfie of her hairstyle: “Just because it’s ghetto, doesn’t mean it’s not fabulous. Loving my #BantuKnots.” This post got over 3,200 retweets and 14,700 likes. 

But @t0nite0ne criticised this post in a retweet: “We feed into racism and hair discrimination when we say things like this. Absolutely nothing is ghetto about natural black hair styles – whether that’s Bantu knots, locs, braids, etc. We need to destroy this notion.” This received nearly 9,000 retweets and over 24,700 likes by Thursday morning, setting the scene for debates on language and race.

@ZikhonaTshona echoed this sentiment by sharing a screenshot of Minnie Dlamini’s Instagram post with this tweet: “Well, Zulaika said it.” The screenshot included a message from teen activist Zulaikha Patel: “You look stunning, but don’t use the word ghetto…” This tweet generated nearly 500 retweets and over 1,200 likes by Thursday.

@miss_andisa tweeted: “We can’t call out racism everyday and then have black people using language that feeds into racist views about blackness.” This tweet got 171 retweets and 513 likes.

In the ensuing discussion over the divisive use of language, some users responded well to its unifying potential. @ashyp_5’s post of an interview with a Cape Town FC football player speaking Afrikaans read: “The thing I love most about this interview is that he’s completely relaxed, he understands her, she understands him, and we understand them both. Authentic South African Cultural Diversity, a thing of real beauty if we’re just able to embrace each other with our differences.” This tweet received 160 retweets and 767 likes. 

Leading women

Conversations about women leadership trended on Twitter on Wednesday, with users commenting that women leaders were usually called upon to save organisations or countries that were in a state of crisis. “It’s weird enough when black men do it, but this whole ‘black women will save the word’ thing coming from nonblack people is creepy af. It’s giving mule, it’s giving servitude, it’s giving diet slavery,” posted @camerouninema. The tweet was in response to Jorge Guajardo stating: “Black women will save the United States.” @camerouninema’s tweet received 27,800 likes and 7,500 retweets, while Jorge Guajardo received 14,300 likes and 10,800 retweets. 

In South Africa, Cricket South Africa announced the appointment of the new acting CEO, Kugandrie Govender. The announcement was followed by sports commentator Sibongile Mafu commenting: “Women CEOs being hired when organisations are already in flames is a South African love story. 🤞🏽” Her response received 1,000 likes and 815 retweets.

Mbaliyezwe Ndlela mentioned several South African women who have signed contracts with international recording companies or have been featured in international shows: “Elaine signs with Columbia Records. Boity signed with Def Jam Africa. Sho Madjozi signed with Epic Records. Busiswa & Moonchild Sanelly slayed on Black Is King. South African female artists are winning & I love to see it.”

The tweet received 12,800 likes and 2,200 retweets. 

Addressing GBV

Wednesday’s reporting cycle featured heavy volumes of conversation about gender-based violence. 

@RayyOratiiloe_ weighed in on the conversation with this tweet: “My chat is , You can’t be fighting against GBV and still harming women psychologically.”  This found traction with 1,500 retweets and comments and nearly 4,000 likes.  

While most users agreed, a few comments raised objections, like: “GBV is about women only?” This led to further discussion about whether GBV applied to both genders. The author of the post eventually acknowledged that GBV can be committed against men as well, saying: “I believe in the reality of it. But it’s rare.”

Journalist Ernest Owens tweeted a video of an interview with American actress Keke Palmer discussing her allegations of sexual misconduct by songwriter Trey Songz. Palmer said: “nobody gives a [expletive] when sometimes black women say something, but when somebody of another complexion says something similar, it is taken very seriously.” This post received over 500 comments and retweets, and nearly 2,000 likes by Thursday.

Many trending posts sought to take action against GBV.  @unathimhlanga_ posted a thread of petitions to combat GBV: “YOU CAN SIGN TO BRING JUSTICE FOR WOMEN IN SA!!!” Posts in the thread included a petition to make the sex offenders list public, a petition to pressure the authorities into action over the recent killing of 20-year old Asithandile Kwasa, using the hashtag #JusticeForKwasa, and several other petitions designed to influence the government into taking action on GBV. The thread gained moderate traction with 500 likes, and nearly 1,000 comments and retweets.

Colonial consequences

Conversations about the legacy of colonialism gained significant traction on social media on Wednesday. @ConfessionWhite shared a photograph of gold reserves: “So France has one of the world’s biggest Gold Reserves in the world with zero gold mines. Mali has 50 gold mines with no gold reserves. The people of Mali are waking up!” This tweet received 647 retweets and 840 likes. DM

The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC) is a non-profit organisation based at UCTs Graduate School of Business and incubated by the Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership. It was established to track and counter mis- and disinformation, fake news and divisive and polarising rhetoric that is promulgated online to undermine social cohesion, democratic integrity, and the stability of nation states.


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