A screen grab of the DA youth poster that has provoked a storm.

Michelle Pietersen

Political Bureau

A DA YOUTH poster showing a partly nude mixed-race couple locked in an embrace sparked a heated debate over race and sex yesterday.

DA Youth leader Makashule Gana defended the poster – part of the student organisation’s new ad campaign – which was posted on the DA Youth’s Facebook page and used as Gana’s twitter avatar (profile picture).

The picture had been reposted almost 100 times on Facebook and received more than 400 comments and more than 150 ‘likes’ by yesterday evening. It is to be used on posters at university campuses across the country.

The comments pointed to the racial, cultural and social differences among citizens.

Conservative users were appalled at the nudity, while the more liberal felt it depicted correctly the society many longed for. But others, black and white, found the picture offensive and racist. One Facebook user, Nkanyiso Mbatha, commented: “This is rubbish!!! These white tendencies are getting annoying!!!” Another user, Neels Mostert, responded: “(This is) utterly disgusting and a slap in the face of all whites!”

Luke Slade said: “Depicting a black man and a white woman would have been way more subversive …”

And Carlos Amato said: “Sadly it’s not the ‘sex’ per se that bothers them all. If only it were simple prudery.”

Amato later commented: “Heh heh! This is hilarious. Ninety percent of these comments vindicate the premise of the ad. For a country so richly endowed with visionary people, South Africans do a masterful impression of endemic stupidity and backwardness. So boring.”

Khanya Sigcawu wrote: “Cool one DASO (DA Students Organisation), reflects the Republic of South Africa we’re living in today. More fire DASO Siyabangena!”

Verna Rainers did not share the sentiment, saying: “Terrible poster. It’s like the united colours of Benetton advert from the 80s and I like to think we have moved on … Why is there such a mediocre understanding of race? It’s horrible.”

Yesterday, Gana said the intention was to spark debate about race in an attempt to create an open, nonracial society.

“We are a new generation of people and leaders and we want to create a particular society. (One in which) you wouldn’t look twice when you see something like this. We are talking about the future,” Gana said.

He defended the concept of the poster – the first in a series – saying it was “not about sex”, was “far from pornography”, “definitely not in bad taste” and not intended to encourage sexual activity among the youth. “The racists will say it’s racist … we can’t pretend race isn’t an issue. People have a problem with being naked. They are scared of seeing themselves … I don’t get it.”

He added that “if anybody saw sex (in the poster), they’ve never had sex before”.

On whether it might encourage sex, Gana said: “Are we trying to say students aren’t getting it on so when they see the picture they’ll think ‘let me go get it on’?”

ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu could not be reached.