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It’s derogatory to Africa’ — Joke Silva, Mo Abudu tackle Sky News over COVID-19 article


Mo Abudu, Nigerian film producer, and Joke Silva, a veteran actress, have called out Sky News, a British media organisation, over an article alleged to be “derogatory” to African heritage.

Sky News had on Saturday published an article originally titled “Spiky coronavirus haircut growing in popularity in Africa”, which examined the rise of a new hairstyle among Kenyan women amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The hairstyle, christened “coronavirus haircut”, is done using a technique called threading, which uses yarn, rather than expensive fake hair braids.

The media outlet would, however, adjust the article later, changing the headline to “Kenyan hairdresser says she is offering customers a ‘corona hairstyle’.”

But reacting to the article in their respective social media pages, the two women wondered why the media outlet would generalise a practice among few women to Africa as a whole.

They also tackled Sky News for presenting a hairstyle which has been in existence for years as an offshoot of the coronavirus pandemic.

Silva called on the media outlet to take down the article, claiming it projects the African continent in a bad light.

“…on behalf of myself and many other African women who have shown their displeasure of this post, (spiky coronavirusvhairstyle). I would like to urge you to take this post down as soon as possible. It is derogatory and condescending to us, our forefathers, our foremothers and generations to come,” she wrote on her Instagram.

On her part, the EbonyLife CEO said the article’s original headline and structure was indicative of the west’s age-long unfavourable media narrative report about Africa.

“After my post and that of many others, highlighting an exploitative, sensational and grossly inaccurate news story by @SkyNews, this morning they have made substantial changes to both the headline and narrative of the article,” she also wrote on her Instagram.

The original headline was about a ‘spiky coronavirus haircut growing in popularity in Africa’. By the time they took note of all our objections, it had been revised to a Kenyan hairdresser offering what she calls a ‘corona hairstyle’.

“I felt so strongly that a story about a local neighborhood hairdresser in Kenya had somehow grown to encompass the whole of Africa and that a centuries-old hairstyle, with a fascinating history, had been reduced to a pandemic fad.⁣”

She added that the fact that the article was adjusted also showed that there is power in the voices of the people when they uninamously stand against perceived wrong in the society.

“My reason for highlighting this significant retraction and revision by @SkyNews is to show that our voices have power and we must use them whenever we feel marginalised, generalised and taken for granted by Western media,” she added.