Epilepsy SA says dance craze Idibala is offensive

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The biggest dance craze to come out of South Africa – the #MalwedheChallenge – might have gripped an international audience, with videos emerging daily from as far as China, but back home not everyone is amused.

Singer King Monada’s hit song, Malwedhe, which means “illnesses” in the kheLobedu dialect of the Pedi language, has gone viral with
fans simulating fainting or a collapse of some sort in accordance with the lyrics of the song.

Translated, the lyrics say the singer suffers from an illness, fainting at the first sight of disappointment.

But it has been labelled as insensitive towards epileptics.

The dance has been posted under the #Idibala on social media – the word means to faint in the singer’s native language.

However, the fake fainting dance trend is deemed offensive by Epilepsy SA – a nonprofit organisation that focuses on giving specialised services to people living with epilepsy and other disabilities.

National director of Epilepsy SA Marina Clarke told City Press the trend “is causing unnecessary heartache” and is offensive to individuals living with the reality of epilepsy on a daily basis, either directly or by close association.

Clarke asked the singer, real name Khutso Kgatle (pictured), to plead with his fans to stop doing the #MalwedheChallenge.

This was because of the dance’s offensive undertone, said the organisation.

“Epilepsy SA has noted with concern the so-called fainting dance popularised by Limpopo-born musician King Monada’s hit song, Malwedhe.

“The title of the song means ‘illness’ in the Bolobedu (sic) dialect of the Sepedi language (sic). Dancers fall to the ground at the chorus and words: ke na le bolwedhe bao idibala (I have an illness of fainting),” said Clarke.

She said: “We are particularly offended by this as it clearly references persons with epilepsy falling down during a seizure. People with epilepsy are one of the most marginalised groups in South Africa [and worldwide] as the condition is stigmatised.

“One of the most popular myths is that epilepsy is linked to witchcraft, possession and curses. This is simply not true. It is a neurological condition which can be effectively treated, usually with medication.

“We call on King Monada and his fans to end this trend which is causing unnecessary heartache and offence to people with epilepsy.

“Please use your talent and influence to embrace the concept of ubuntu and work towards the inclusion of people with epilepsy in society rather than supporting further discrimination and stigmatisation.”

King Monada’s manager, Albert Makwela, apologised for any offence the song may have caused to the epileptic community, stating that “in general terms we did not want to offend anyone” and encouraged the fans not to be offensive.

He said King Monada would not be able to oblige Epilepsy SA’s request to have the dance halted because he could not tell his fans to stop the dance as he did not originate it.

It was not as if King Monada had told them to dance in that fashion in the first place, he said.

There is no official music video of the song.

“If you pay attention, we never had a video put out where we acted like we were fainting. People just came up with the idea themselves.

“They are doing something we did not order them to do and it would be unfortunate for us to have to carry the responsibility for something we did not do,” King Monada said.

“When we came up with the lyrics, they were meant to be fun. The lyrics are basically a joke and we wanted to have fun with our fans” he said.

Makwela said if “push comes to shove” they were willing to meet with Epilepsy SA to discuss the matter.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation has sent Makwela a letter in connection with the dance as a result of videos posted online by fans who faked fainting while driving.

King Monada’s camp publicly urged fans not to do the dance while driving.

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