Saturday night, Marlon Wayans rolled into the 2014 MTV African Music Awards (MAMA) on a “blinged-up rickshaw” to host the show, which was broadcast on both MTV and MTV Base across sub-Saharan Africa for the first time.
The MAMAs paid tribute to African musicians and entertainers from all over the continent with Nigerian superstars Davido, Tiwa Savagge, and South African group Mafikizolo taking home the night’s top awards.
While the show was a spectacular showcase of Africa’s talent, and included exciting performances from Americans like Trey Songs, Miguel, and French Montana, the night was dampened by Marlon Wayans’ stereotypical jokes about Africa.
Though Billboard declared the comedian “charmed the audience” through a series of clips, showing Wayans pretending to be “a clueless American reporter ” whose knowledge of the continent progressed throughout the event by way of several staged interviews, others saw Wayans’ brand of humor quite differently.
ThisIsAfrica.com lambasted Wayans performance, putting him alongside Rick Ross (who thought Africa was a country) as yet “another American [who] hits African soil without much clue about where they are landing.”
According to the blog, Wayans mangled the pronunciation of several artists’ names and even mispronounced the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. And apparently it got worse.
“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.”
ThisIsAfrica concluded: “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.”
Several viewers took to social media to express their displeasure with Wayans’ performance. AfriPop music writer Phiona Okumu said Wayans was the wrong choice for the job, while popular Nigerian R&B artist Banky Wellington called him a “terrible host.” Kenyan activist Ory Okolloh did not mince any words, tweeting, “Whose dumb idea was it to have Marlon Wayans host #MTVMAMA? He has not even trying to be locally relevant. *smh*”
While Wayans could have been a great addition to the show, strengthening the bond between African-Americans and Africans, unfortunately he relied on antiquated tropes about the continent that did little more than make him seem even more out of touch.
Check out highlights from the show: