It has been barely a year since the xenophobic attacks nearly turned South Africa inside out. And as it appears, racism continues to be a big issue in the country. No one is seemingly willing to let even the littlest of racist mistakes slide, not even when it comes to the country’s biggest pharmacy chain, Clicks Group.
According to reports, demonstrators have already damaged 7 of the drug retailer’s shops. The protests, which took hold yesterday (Monday 7th), has also forced the business to close its other shops.
Apparently, Clicks Group had the wrong prescription for an ad it put up on its website, getting itself entwined in an overdose of protests.
The advert, which was done by a Unilever brand called TRESemmé, displayed an image of African black hair and described it as “dry, frizzy and damaged”. Furthermore, it referred to an example of white hair as “fine and flat”. The ad spurred controversy and culminated in vandalism.
Clicks Group has suspended the employees who were responsible for the advertisement, according to an official statement. Both the pharmacy chain and the Dutch-owned shampoo maker, TRESEmme, have tendered apologies regarding the incidence.
The advert was posted on Friday last week, and was removed the same day after complaints. Nevertheless, protesters led by the hard-left party known as the Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) demanded that Clicks Group’s store be shut down for no less than a week.
Per local news reports, two Clicks outlets were bombed with petrol. Apparently, it was just the right time to bring back George Floyd’s tragic incidence in Minneapolis, where the African-American was killed by police officers.
One protester was seen wearing a t-shirt in his honor while standing outside a closed Clicks store in Johannesburg’s Sandton financial district.
In September 2019, ShopRite Nigeria was vandalized and some of its items/properties were either looted or destroyed. This was the outcome of the racism-related attacks that started in South Africa.
Clicks Group’s incidence only joins the list of South African companies to get caught in a black-white scuffle that remains a highly sensitive issue in not just the country, but throughout Africa.
In 2018, Nike was on the receiving end of racism-related scorches in South Africa. The husband of one the brand’s employees was caught in a row.
He posted a video of himself on a beach vacation, glorifying the fact that the place was not occupied by blacks. Two of the sportswear giant’s shops in Johannesburg were closed as it said it opposes discrimination.
Just 8 months before the Nike conundrum, Hennes & Mauritz AB posted an ad that featured a black child modeling a hoodie, with the text “coolest monkey in the jungle”.
The Swedish multinational clothing-retail company was forced to shutter its outlets in South Africa, thanks to protests against the online ad.
South Africans remain quite scarred by its apartheid and colonial past. The racial reconciliation embraced by the late Nelson Mandela was marred by racist incidents. A quarter of a century after the country’s era, racism has been dealt with an iron fist.
Featured Image: Economic Times
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