Malawians take over BBC social media pages over coverage deemed racist

Malawians have taken over British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) social media pages, demanding an apology from the media company over its Facebook post about President Lazarus Chakwera’s pledge to the Malawi National Football Team.

On Tuesday, Malawi faced Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and before the match Chakwera pledged millions of Kwacha to the team if the Flames qualified to the next round of the AFCON.

The BBC News Africa Facebook page asked its followers about the gift posting: “Should Malawi’s football team be paid a gift by the president to play against Senegal?”

The post attracted thousands of Malawian social media users, some of whom accused the BBC of racism. Other commenters said the BBC would not have asked such a question if it were a political leader in Britain offering the gift.

Many commenters were also quick to point out that the BBC had misrepresented what the president said.

“I am somewhat puzzled by this article that surmounts to poor reporting in the least and an outright attempt to mislead the masses at most. Given that the President tweeted in English, I would expect that your learned journalists would not have struggled to understand exactly what was meant especially in the most literal context. The President is not gifting the players anything for playing against Senegal but gifting them the said money if they win and qualify for the knockout stages, which isn’t a concern to us Malawians,” said Leon Chimboni Soko.

Since Tuesday, Malawians have been camping on the BBC News Africa page commenting on every post about their demand for an apology from BBC.

One Malawian, Francesco John Mpambe Jr, has since started a petition which also seeks an apology from BBC News Africa and demands the media company to delete the post within 7 days.

Social media influencer Pemphero Mphande who confirmed signing the petition faulted the BBC for labeling the President’s pledge to Flames players as payment.

He wrote: “I like this narrative because these “western” media are fond of poor reporting that looks down on African countries. It’s bigger than just Malawi. It’s about safeguarding our African interests. I urge you all to sign. Let’s hit 100,000 signatures. Africa shall not be looked down upon!”