File picture: GCINA NDWALANE

Johannesburg - The Advertising Regulatory Body on Tuesday ordered popular fast food outlet Chicken Licken to pull its 'Big John' advert after a complaint against it was upheld.

The commercial shows a young man,called John Mjohnana, leaving his village in a boat in 1650 aiming to satisfy his hunger for adventure. 

He then encounters numerous obstacles before arriving in Holland in 1651 where finds two white gentlemen looking at a map, seemingly in preparation for an upcoming voyage.

He greets them in what is well known asˑTsotsi taal and tells them that he likes the place before suggesting that it should be called Europe.

Sandile Cele laid a complaint with the body, saying the advert made "a mockery of the struggles of the African people against the colonisation by Europeans in general and the persecutions suffered at the hands of the Dutch in particular".

The fast food outlet denied that this was the case, saying that the commercial was premised on the need to uplift the South African spirit.

"Its tongue-in-cheek sense of humour is a tone that consumers have come to expect, but its communication, underlying purpose is to create a sense of pride and patriotism amongst South Africans," the company said.

The regulatory body in a statement confirmed that, after considering the facts before it, decided to ban the advert for contravening the provisions of Section 1 of Section II of the Code.

"The directorate acknowledges that [while] there are scenes that are not real... it also recognises that turning the usual colonisation story around might be perceived as having a certain element of humour, and that the commercial has certainly been crafted with the intention of being humorous. 

"The reality though is that colonisation of Africa and her people was traumatic. While the commercial seeks to turn the colonisation story on its head with Big John travelling to Europe,it is well-known that many Africans were in fact forced to travel to Europe in the course of the colonisation of Africa. They did not leave their countries and village wilfully; they starved to death during those trips to Europe; and arrived there under harsh and inhumane conditions.

The body added that: "Atrocities suffered by Africans under colonisation are well documented and the legacy thereof continues to exist to date. This experience can never be rewritten differently and cannot be trivialised in any manner."

Chicken Licken has since been ordered to remove the ad and not use it again in future.