Ugandan comedian Patrick Salvador was at the centre of a Twitterstorm after clip of him using the word “genocide” in his stand-up comedy went viral.
The clip offended and angered some viewers especially Rwandans because of his use of the word “genocide” in a joke about East African cabin crew and their use of national languages in in-flight announcements.
In the joke that tweeps have called “tasteless” and “disgusting,” Salvador imitates a RwandAir cabin crew speaking in Kinyarwanda, where he mentions amafaranga (meaning Rwandan francs) before he mentions Paul Kagame followed by more gibberish then the word “genocide.”
Rwandans on Twitter and WhatsApp groups came out guns blazing asking Salvador to apologise. But opinion was divided with some saying that he did not joke about genocide, that he just mentioned the word.
“This isn’t funny at all, you might not have any idea what genocide is but at least stop dehumanising the innocent souls and families that are still trying to heal. You owe the entire Rwandan community an apology and please withdraw your script,” tweeted Seth Butera, who started the campaign to call out the comedian.
Alice Ikirezi tweeted: “This was a total humiliation to humanity and a disgrace to the world of comedy, he misrepresented his industry, genocide isn’t a joking matter. In fact, it’s so shameful that he looked for a living in making genocide a laughable matter.”
However, Salvador did not back down: “I can’t apologise for your failure to understand my joke. I dare you to tell me what joke I made about the genocide…then I’ll apologise. What did I say sir?” he tweeted in response to the barrage of negative tweets calling for him to apologise.
Cases of controversial comedic content are not new with opinions deeply divided on topics about sexual minorities, sex offenders, racial stereotypes, politics and topics, which generally tend to divide people depending on their beliefs, culture and norms.
So the question remains: Is there artistic sanctity or should comedy abide by sense and sensibilities?