Rwandans have taken to Social Media to lambast Ugandan comedian Patrick ‘Salvador’ Idringi for a joke some described as ‘tasteless’ while others said it trivialises the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
It is understood that Salvador made the joke on April 5 at Kampala Serena Hotel during Awilo Longomba’s concert but for some reasons, the video only surfaced last week, infuriating many Rwandans as it made rounds on Whatsapp.
In a clip that circulated widely, the Ugandan comedian jokes about the beauty of countries having their own airlines, alluding to the good feeling that comes when you board the plane and the crew speaks in a local language before they speak in English.
When he got to Rwanda, Salvador joked about boarding Rwandair and the announcer starts off in Kinyarwanda, greeting the passengers and then providing details on the flight.
Using some sort of gibberish, purportedly Kinyarwanda, Salvador goes on to mention some key words “Amafaranga”, “Amahoro”, “Paul Kagame”, “Amahanga” then “Genocide”, sending the audience into bouts of laughter. He added that some words can’t be translated to Kinyarwanda, such as “turbulence”, “above sea level”.
The comedian who has performed in Rwanda several times did not stop there. When he came to the English part, he started off with good English before he interrupted the joke and said he forgot Rwandans can’t speak English properly.
Acting as the announcer, Salvador mocked the Rwandair crew by using broken English and claiming that in some instances they use gestures to drive the point home. He also seemingly joked about the size of the country, indicating that few minutes into the announcement, it is time to land.
While many found the entire joke funny, Rwandans did not take lightly the part he mentions ‘genocide’, with many taking to social media to call him out.
“Dear @idringp this isn’t funny at all! You might not have any idea what Genocide is but at least stop dehumanizing the innocent souls and the families that are still trying to heal! You owe the entire Rwandan community an apology and please withdraw your script,” noted social media user Seth Butera while Paul Haliri Jr described the joke as ‘disgusting’.
While some said it was just a joke which should be taken lightly, others questioned if comedians can freely joke about the holocaust and other sensitive topics including death such as 911.
“There should be no jokes with and about genocide against Tutsi. This is beyond crimes, and it should not be subject to comedy. It should stop. People should say No to this character. Absolutely NO,” said Ladislas Ngendahimana.
Some questioned whether the comedian jokes about sensitive topics in Uganda such as massacres by Kony rebels, Kasese massacres or terror attacks in Uganda.
“Personally I found that so disgusting and absolutely disparaging,” said Frankie Joe Rukundo, a Rwandan model and musician based in Canada, adding that “you do not joke around with genocide. You owe the entire Rwandan community an apology”.
The Ugandan comedian however has remained defensive, refusing to apologise over mocking the genocide and stereotyping Rwandans, instead accusing those who found the joke offensive of lacking a sense of humour.
“You will wait for it [apology] for a long time … I can’t apologize for your failure to understand my joke… I can dare you to tell me what joke I made about the Genocide… then I’ll apologize,” Salvador responded to Butera.
“You can keep your apology! Thought you were human enough to understand that you danced on the graves of genocide victims with that insensitive, nauseating joke. I was wrong,” tweeted Haliri Jr.
The 34-year old Comedian went on to mock those who requested for an apology that “humour is not for everyone” and that he doesn’t need lectures.
Insensitive to context
But for fellow comedian Arthur Nkusi, Salvador as a Ugandan perhaps doesn’t understand the context of the subject of genocide and how sensitive it is, noting that while the entire joke could have come off as funny, he failed to understand how sensitive the subject is to Rwandans.
“He could have used many other examples Rwanda is known for, Mountain Gorillas for instance, but not the Genocide. That is a no go area. It doesn’t matter how creative the joke is but the subject of the genocide can’t fit in,”
“Maybe it is because he hasn’t experienced it nor has he taken time to understand how the genocide affected people. He wouldn’t be joking about it or even just including the word genocide in the skit,” Nkusi says.
The comedian and radio personality who has previously brought Salvador to Rwanda, including this year’s Seka First earlier this year, said that Salvador should have understood the joke would not go down well with Rwandans, however harmless it may seem to others.
“I always tell people that there are things you can’t joke about in this day and age. There are certain topics that are extremely sensitive including genocide, holocaust, rape, sexual violence, gender-based violence and others which people can find tasteless when joked about,” says Nkusi.
The comedian said it would be wise for Salvador to apologise but if he fails to understand the context, he won’t, something that might not go down well with his Rwandan audience. Some accused him of being naïve and ignorant.