On Friday 16th August, 2013 the Birmingham Mail published a racist and offensive article written by Maureen Messent that defended the use of ‘Bongo Bongo Land’ to describe African nations. You can read the offending article here.
Such offensive copy is unacceptable in any society and the Organisation of Black Unity has written an open letter in response. Please let the editors of the Birmingham Mail feel your displeasure (David.Brookes@trinitymirror.com; firstname.lastname@example.org) feel free to forward our open letter:
It is with great surprise and dismay that this letter has to written, because society is supposed to have progressed since the 1960s and newspapers have codes of standards that it is your duty to respect.
Maureen Messent’s article published in the Friday 16 August 2013 edition of the Birmingham Mail in support of UKIP’s Godfrerry Bloom’s use of the term Bongo Bongo Land is offensive, insulting and had no place being published in the 21st Century. There is such thing as free speech but some speech is simply unacceptable for publication in a newspaper.
Contrary to Messent’s claim, Bongo Bongo Land is anything but an ‘accepted euphemism’ for African nations. It is a racist term that assumes African nations are backwards and inferior, a diseased logic obviously endorsed by Messsent who doesn’t feel that African nations should be viewed as ‘equals in law, honesty and goodwill’. Messent somehow manages to conflate the issue of corrupt leaders with the view of African nations as being inferior to the all mighty West.
It is shocking enough that this racist diatribe was written but it is completely and utterly unacceptable that it was made it through the editorial process and was published in the Birmingham Mail.
Birmingham is a multi-racial city that deserves a local newspaper that seeks to cater for this diversity, rather than offend and alienate communities. The Birmingham Mail should immediately remove the offending article, issue a full apology and discipline all those involved in its publication.
The Organisation of Black Unity