February 18, 2018


The scene included a black man dressed up as a monkey and a Chinese actress who had been “blacked up”

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Racism Row Over Chinese TV “Blackface” Comedy Sketch

Racism Row Over Chinese TV “Blackface” Comedy Sketch


The Chinese New Year is a big event and the state broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV), marked it on Thursday with a four-and-a-half hour television spectacular watched by an estimated 700 million Chinese viewers. One comedy sketch included in the evening’s entertainment has however caused an outcry for its portrayal of Kenyans and Africans.

The comedy skit included in CCTV’s ‘Spring Festival Gala’ was about Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), which was meant not only to be funny but also to play on the theme of China’s growing relationship with Africa.


Unfortunately the scene included a black man dressed up as a monkey and a Chinese actress who had been “blacked up” and stuffed padding material into her stage outfit to make her backside look bigger, a part played by famous Chinese actress Lou Naiming.

In the comedy sketch the blacked-up female character reportedly declares: “China has done so much for Africa!” and, “I love Chinese people! I love China!”

The skit was about the launch of the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR and included other African actors dressed up as gazelles and zebras.


Kenyans took to social media to express their concerns.

Lawyer Donald Kipkorir tweeted, “I’m waiting for our Ministry for our new Minister of Foreign Affairs to summon the Chinese ambassador”.

The cartoonist Patrick Gathara tweeted: “Did you know that the Chinese blackface skit was actually portraying you and your!”.

Another well-known lawyer, Gitobu Imanyra, was reported by the New York Times as saying: “What is disgusting is that we won’t hear any official complaint from African governments who are complicit in the recolonisation of Africa by China”.

To date Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese embassy in Nairobi have made no public comment on the matter.


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