By Uncle P
CBS Reality in the US has been running their Cheaters television show for many years. The show according to their presenters is “both dedicated to the faithful and presented to the false-hearted to encourage their renewal of temperance and virtue”. It is a reality show therefore the entertainment factor is key.
In South Africa we have our local versions of most of the US reality shows and Uyajola 9/9 is a local version of Cheaters. Umoja Love’s Uyajola 9/9 has hit the Mzansi’s top charts and is ranked amongst the highest trending shows in recent months. It zooms in into people’s lives, however it is unclear if everyone who is featured in the episodes gives full consent nor they are aware of their rights, the show does not give clarity on that. However whilst it is entertaining as has, over the lockdown period, gotten Mzansi talking, it is not all in good taste.
The producer approaches or invites viewers who suspect that their partner is unfaithful to come forward and tell their story. JubJub, the presenter then interviews the ‘plaintiff’ and get their side of the story. The defendant is left out of the loop because, in true reality entertainment style, there has to be some suspense and surprise. JubJub then does his ‘Investigation’ and returns with his findings. The episode concludes with a ‘confrontation’ where the plaintiff is taken to a site where the defendant is usually caught red-handed. The entire mood of the confrontation is belligerent and the plaintiff is almost encouraged to take a combative approach. At no point does JubJub even try to find a solution and peace other than to humiliate and embarrass the cheater.
The one specific episode aired for the first time on 31 May 2020 takes place in Qwaqwa. The lady complainant invited JubJub to spy on her boyfriend after she felt that he is no longer affectionate and is generally cold towards her. At around 5 o’clock on a cold dark morning, JubJub and his crew are seen driving into the township. When they get to the house they find the complainant’s boyfriend naked in bed with another man. A fight ensues between the complainant and the other man, with accusations of her not giving the boyfriend attention. The boyfriend is clearly shocked and defenseless but the TV crew continues to question and harass him. There is no attempt to hide their faces. The complainant throws a microwave oven on the floor and as they leave, she throws a brick and breaks the kitchen windowpane. Apart from her saying that she no longer wants to be with him and he, seemingly trying to calm her down, no clear conclusion is reached. The crew leaves the scene followed by the ‘other man’ who threatens to hit her and promises to continue the relationship with her boyfriend.
There are concerns that the entire show is staged and the participants are actors. For instance, in another episode where two women who appeared on the show, fighting over a male partner, are later seen hanging out together, having drinks with friends. Whatever the truth, promoting violence and being insensitive to issues such as gender-based violence and disrespecting people’s rights and privacy is what is making some viewers unhappy and disapprove of Uyajola 9/9. Clearly the disapproving views are in the minority, at least this is what the show’s popularity suggests. There is no doubt that there is a place for the show in society however one would think and hope that the ultimate objective should be to present solutions and advise on how, for instance to reduce violence and infidelity.