Death By Ayoba!

What I dig about South Africa is that every year when summer rolls around, the cell phone network providers all ramp up their advertising and bombard us from all sides with ‘Summer this’ and ‘Summer that’ and shots of mixed racial groups partying on beaches, having the time of their lives.

And all the while, I look at these ad campaigns and think to myself, How come I don’t hang out in mixed racial groups? Why do I only have whites for friends pretty much with the exception of some Indians and one or two peripheral blacks? What the hell is wrong with me? Christ, I’m a racist bastard!



Then to make matters worse, they choose some random word in a black language I don’t understand and shove it in my face every opportunity they get.

This year it’s ‘Ayoba’ (thanks MTN), I’ve probably read that word about 50 times in the last week alone and there’s still essentially two months of summer holiday advertising to go.

By the end of it all, the word will probably be burned into my retina. I’ll wake up, pouring sweat in the middle of the night, wide-eyed, screaming ‘AYOBA! AYOBA! AAAYYYOOOOOBBBBBAAAAA!’



I think what gets to me is the fact that they attach all this meaning to a word that they know non-black people won’t understand. Why do they do that? It doesn’t seem like the smartest way to encourage racial unity in SA.

‘Hey guys!’


‘I’ve got a GREAT idea for our new campaign!’

‘YOU’RE INCREDIBLE! Cutmeanotherlineofcocaineandtellusallaboutit!’

‘OK! Check it out! There are WAAAAAAAYYYYY more blacks than whites in this country right?’


‘Cool! Let’s make an advertising campaign that ONLY black people will understand!’



‘Yeah, we’ll create a sense of unity amongst the black community while ostracising the whites and making them feel completely unhip, uncool and sidelined!’



‘…umm guys…’


‘We’re white…’

‘Whatever! Shuttup! MORE COCAINE!’



To make things worse, you’ll probably find that the meaning of Ayoba is something completely arbitrary.

After I typed that last sentence I did a little Ugoogle-ising and found the following gem posted on the Jacaranda FM website:

“Ayoba – the word for 2010.

The word for excitement, cool,

fun… pride… joy… football… winning!!!”

Fuck, no wonder they chose that word for their campaign, it means EVERYTHING. Wait, it gets better:

“MTN is celebrating summer by adding ‘Ayoba-ness’ to everything it does”

Well that’s just fucking great. Expect to have this word screamed at you from billboards, TVs, newspapers, radios and magazines at FULL volume.

Ayoba! Ayoba! Ayoba!

And all over the country, whites, indians, coloureds, hell even the Chinese, will be scratching their heads in unison, all thinking exactly the same thing, ‘What the fuck does that mean?’

And as is the case with pretty much everything that gets regurgitated into mainstream media these days, the answer is simple.

It means nothing.

The more people that don’t know the meaning of it the better because it means nothing, it’s just a worm dangling off the hook of the happy holiday summer consumer spendasmuchmoneyasyoucan idea that they want you to swallow.

I’ve got a better idea. Here’s my fist. Let’s see you swallow that.


48 Responses to “Death By Ayoba!”

  1. November 19, 2009 at 8:50 am

    ha – about halfway thru reading ur post… what advert comes on the radio? … Ayobayobayoh!!

  2. 3 me
    November 19, 2009 at 8:57 am

    feeling left are we now ? LMAO I bet you would not be complaining as much if they rebranded it as lekker lekker lekker-nesssss.

    yet another Whiney whitey (bet you been moaning and bitching since ’94)……..moving along nothing here!!

    • November 19, 2009 at 9:54 am

      I don’t moan and bitch that often to be honest. My outlook on South Africa is actually really positive, I think the country’s come a long way and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.

      I just don’t like MTN’s current ad campaign. Rebranding it lekker lekker lekker-nesssss would be equally as bad.

      I appreciate the feedback though, don’t be a stranger 🙂


      • 5 Commiserate
        November 19, 2009 at 10:50 am

        Hi there, I totally agree with you. You know what really gets me….how everyone in our merry SA thinks that the language that they speak is the only one that should be spoken. At some point, all our people will have to recognise that South Africa is made up of black, white, coloured, indian, chinese, french, portuguese…….basically, a banquet of everything, yet we’re all supposed to know what “Ayoba” means. It’s like the song that our president loves to sing…..I find it shocking that the only expression of reconciliation and peace is to advocate that we pick up our machine guns and kill.
        And you know what’s funny……I’m not even white ha ha, I was educated before the “model C” era and I still have memories of the demonstrations I attended and was tear gassed for my efforts.

        Why can’t we have adverts in English, programs in English or at least find a line that unites everyone and not let black people feel they have one up of everyone else. Reverse racism……?????

  3. 6 nicolascallegari
    November 19, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Slick, you’ve outdone yourself again. I can’t remember when I laughed this much.

    [/Begin serious comment]
    The truth is that MTN has lost over half a million subscribers and it blames RICA and the recession. Funny that, considering Vodacom recorded a growth in subscribers.

    But I digress.

    MTN has been bleeding subscribers for some time now (I know of at leat five friends who have all given MTN the finger and ported to Vodacom) and you know what MTN did to retain their business…nothing.

    I was a loyal MTN subscriber for close on 10 years and not once was I recognised for my loyal business. Hell, when I cancelled my contract, they didn’t even ask why, just got an “ohkeey” on the other side of the phone and that was that.

    The reason I left MTN? Well, shoddy serivce and network quality problems notwithstanding, I didn’t feel any affinity to the brand whatsoever.

    I didn’t feel like I “belonged” and this was further re-inforced by their stupid ad campaigns and corporate identity that quite frankly, alientated me as a previously advantaged now disadvantaged (PANDA) individual.

    MTN, quite clearly, has a specific target market and they’re pretty blatant about how they go about enaging with that market. If you’re young, black and only have a few rands to scrape together for a prepaid card, you’re in the biggest demographic in SA and that’s where MTN wants to be.

    (You know what I mean, how many times do you see an “073” or “078” number come up on your cellphone and all you get on the other side of the line when you answer is “Hullo? Hullo? Khunjani Hullo?”)

    I got news for you Slick, you and I are not that target market – and neither is any person who also thinks that Ayoba is pointless and irritating, and certainly neither are the “doff” dutchman that they use in the radio ads. Which is why ad campaigns like this Ayoba crap will always be lost on us and why we’ll just keep streaming to Vodacom.

    That’s exactly why companies like Vodacom will continue to slowly eat away at MTN’s high-value data and contract customer base, because, whether their marketing departments like to hear me say this or not, they each exude a brand identity that either appeals to one side of the SA populace or the other – even if they don’t say it out loud.

    I say, when shit like this irritates you, take action. Speak with your money. Ayoba irritates the snot out of me, but I’m not an MTN subscriber and that ad campaign will do absolutely nothing to make me go back to that network. In fact, it re-inforces why I left MTN in the first place and it’ll brobably fuel the informal boycott I have against MTN anyway.

  4. November 19, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Hi me! I think you missed slick’s social observation here.

    Ad agencies latch onto buzzwords and have campaigns that do not necessarily represent reality. Check out Microsoft 7 for example – although a campaign in the states, it clearly supports this argument as the Microsoft ‘party’ includes token everythings; ‘white middle aged female’, ‘black dude’, hell – they even threw in an Asian!

    I strongly believe that a lot of agencies latch onto a word like Ayoba and bastardise the fuck out of it!

    In 2009, as a consumer I don’t want to be fed bullshit, but it just seems that MTN is trying to make a word that means all things to everyone, which inevitably fails!

    You have clearly never met Slick either and haven’t read any of his other material. If you did, you would know that he’s not some fucken tard who gets half a lazy from distinct averageness such as ‘lekker’

  5. November 19, 2009 at 10:12 am


    Wow, and I bet you leave that kind of comment every time you see a blog post mentioning the words black or white. The way I read it this post wasn’t really about race.

    If I know slicktiger (and I do, have since about ’97, so can’t account for him between ’94 and ’97 but anyway) he’d fuckin haaaaaaate lekker lekker lekker even more.

  6. 9 chris
    November 19, 2009 at 10:20 am

    so after laughing all through the OP, I was nodding along with nicolascallegari, but then a thought struck me. While I find Ayoba irritating, it in no way measures up the the complete f*ckwittery that was the Vodacom Meerkat. so if they both have completely toss-pot campaigns, does that mean neither network wants me?

    • 10 nicolascallegari
      November 19, 2009 at 10:34 am

      HAHAHAHAHA. I TOTALLY forgot about that bloody furball. Thanks for that.

      Let’s face is okes, we’re screwed because the world is run by retards and they’re trying to make retards out of everyone else.

  7. 11 Foxxy
    November 19, 2009 at 10:30 am

    I have only one question for Slick – – where there is a problem noted – there should be a suggestion or solution. what do you think MTN should replace the work AYOBA with for a successful summer Campaign

    • November 19, 2009 at 10:41 am

      I can’t speak for Slick, but I think their “Y’ello Summer” campaign was the most effective. It appealed to the widest audience and actually portrayed a brand identity that people could relate to.

    • November 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

      Foxxy, that’s an EXCELLENT point – touche!

      You nailed it, unless I offer some kind of suggestion on how to improve the campaign, all I’m doing is sitting on my ass, exactly like every other middle class white South African I know, and complaining.

      Am I fixing the problem? Hell no.

      Obviously the ad agency that created the campaign was briefed to make a campaign that appeals to the masses, and as soon as you get into that territory, you’re in deep water because anything that’s high concept is going to sail straight over the heads of the people you’re trying to reach, and anything that sticks in the minds of the masses is going to irritate the hell out of people like me.

      I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and guess that you’re involved in the Ayoba campaign in some way, if so, I don’t envy you one bit. However, let’s take this a step further – mail me the brief you guys worked off for the campaign and I’ll put together a few suggestions.


  8. November 19, 2009 at 10:42 am

    nicely done cuz,
    well i’m of the African decent coming from the Zulu/Xhosa tribes, went to a predominately white school, have a lot of black friends and bucket loads of token white friends…
    And i still don’t know what Ayoba means, frankly not a fan of the word cause no matter where you go, no matter where you hide, that word is every where!!!!! and MTN has made it worse.
    Fella you killed on this piece of social commentary!
    nicely done

  9. November 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

    When you consider the fact that us black folks stopped saying the word ayoba like two years ago, the ad campaign seems a lot more stupid and pointless.

  10. 18 PGGLS
    November 19, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Hi Slick, I totally agree. I am an MTN subscriber, except I go through Nashua Mobile (for the love of God – don’t ever get involved with them either)-their service is so bad its not even worth talking about… its just depressing.

    Anyway, I agree, these catchy jingles irritate me. They don’t appeal to my sense of logic, emotion, ideology,or beliefs, only my accute sense of musical imagery (in other words, I can’t get the fucking tune out of my head, i wake up in cold sweats singing Ayobayobayoh!!.

    They try to cover the advertising arena with this fluffy bullshit excuse for advertising, when in actual fact they are just slowly stealing our money, eatting away at our hard earned cash, and all they have to say for their shitty excuse of an existance is “Ayoba”… Fuck you MTN, I’m busy putting at least 6 of your executive’s children through college with my phone bill each month!

  11. 19 PGGLS
    November 19, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    another thing, could the people in charge of these advertising campaigns fucking develop a sense of humour…. there is not one funny ad on tv or radio in South Africa at the moment… look at adverts from the states or europe… they dwarf our pathetic attempts in terms of humour, aesthetics and intellegence… Ayoba is just another example of S.A’s sense of humour or intellegence when it comes to adverts….. piss – poor!

  12. 20 Jay
    November 19, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    If you really wanted to know what Ayoba means you would’ve asked one of our peripheral black friends…

    Do we have to translate all campaigns into all official languages? That’s your idea of encouraging national unity? Let me tell you now – that’s NOT AYOBA!

    The use of words like “AYOBA” and phrases like “Met uys” on the other hand encourages interaction and helps us learn more about each other. Now that is AYOBA!

    That said – I don’t like the new MTN campaign – I find it a bit on the irritating side- but not because of the reasons you gave.

  13. November 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    It’s just a good example of the Divide and Rule strategy of the new South Africa.
    Why do you think we have 11 official languages?
    Why, to ensure that we never understand each other of course.
    If we understood each other we might just get to know and like each other.
    Nation building my foot!

  14. November 20, 2009 at 11:04 am

    bet you one of your favourite ads of all time was the WAAAZUP bullisht for budwieser right? once again no point raised but a lot of blubber…ITS NOT A WORD…ITS STREET ITS NOT AN AFRICAN LANGUAGE!!!! once again the you prove your ignorance…nice one the my guy…i hate the ads simply because the word is way past its sell by date…live in a country your whole life and all you understand is fanagalo.

  15. 23 ZuluXhosaSotho
    November 20, 2009 at 11:32 am

    The word “Ayoba” is not Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa or any of African languages that fall within the official set. Which is worrying as to why the the word is immediately associated with the Black community …”they choose some random word in a black language I don’t understand and shove it in my face every opportunity they get. This year it’s ‘Ayoba’ (thanks MTN)” But then again how many non-black South Africans take time to try and understand African languages. Black South African’s don’t speak the same language but there is more effort to understand other languages as we are have to co-exist. English is not the only language and does not equate quality and knowledge.

    Kadudu, we have 11 official languages because we have South African for whom being part of this national means they have to be acknowledged as they are and their language is as important. How we behave with the 11 languages is up to us. Maybe black South Africans would prefer being interviewed (for the morning news) in their own language instead trying to get the English right. If you don’t understand a word, ignore it or make an effort. I have still my English dictionary.

  16. 24 BrattStar
    November 20, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Sounds like a WHOLE bunch of WHINING from a VC or FCB employee to me… in my humble opinion and objective observation…unlike the bias opinion of the author it seems but that would be an assumption on my part.

    At least I can say that MTN’s “Summer” campaign is original (for a change) – Vodacom: SUMMER – for f*ck sakes AGAIN!?!?!?! Please WE ALL KNOW ITS SUMMER – WHY DO SHOULD WE CARE THAT YOU KNOW Vodacom, do we look like we don’t know its SUMMER huh?

    Anyway – we all have different opinions of what is good advertising and what isn’t. Quite frankly WGAF? I love Vodacom, their service, their Brand, their products All AWESOMRRR!

    Suppose we could all go to Cell C and get a Gospel package… Oh but shit that would have to pigeon hole me too!

    Demmit…. what SP to go to then? Virgin…nope then I would have to be a Virgin…hmmm what to do… Oh I have a good idea… STOP WHINING ABOUT BULLSHIT LIKE WHO’S SUMMER CAMPAIGN SUCKS AND WHOSE DOESN’T…

    Aren’t there other things far more important to discuss that need serious discussion? Like oh I don’t know ANYTHING ELSE?

    Love you all for your invaluable marketing feedback I will most surely pass this on to the MTN Marketing team HAHAHA!

    Have an “Ayoba” day!

  17. November 21, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    @brattstar – perhaps you should spend a lil more time cruising the pages of this site as you clearly haven’t figured out the tone of this blog.

    Slicktiger adopts the major style of the planet’s most successful observational comedians ie Chris Rock and Seinfeld – who detail a premise (a fact), and then blow the audience away with the ‘act out’. because your audience ‘gets’ what you’re saying and they’re more willing to laugh.

    For example, ‘What bugs me about SA telecoms ads is how they bombard us with new buzzwords every summer’ ( majority of audience agrees and hence this is a good observation – don’t take my word for it read all the other comments above) Now for the dynamite: the act out is slicktiger, assuming the character of White ad execs, shnarfing coke and coming up with lame ideas and the reason why I laugh my ass off! This is my idea of written stand-up, but obviously not yours.

    The best thing about SA is that we don’t all agree and we probably never will, but slicktiger has made an observation that resonates with all of us – once again, I use the passionate comments as my proof point!

    I’m putting words in slicks mouth but he wants to create discussions re his posts and look at how exciting this space is when people actually share their opinions.

    Your argument, unfortunately, lost all credibility when you took me down the road of ‘so do I have to be a Virgin to have a Virgin mobile account?’…

  18. 27 brattstar
    November 21, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    @ wgaf

    U right the maen I have read the tone of this site so I guess I mistook it for another whining moaning time to grow a spine blog…

    So just to be clear there’s no bias in any commentary?

  19. November 21, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    @brattstar – of course it’s bias, it’s an opinion! Don’t worry about the mistake, you’re only human 😉

  20. November 23, 2009 at 7:11 am

    What you guys don’t realise is that the AYOBA campaign is supposed to get the people talking about it. and that’s just what you’re doing.

    mission accomplished! the good news is that YEABO died at f&%@cken last.


  21. January 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Wow what an eye opening piece you wrote, lm sure not even 10% of the South Africans who have loved that phrase have never thought of it like that. lm a black Zimbabwean and lm totally no racist. English l believe is one unifying language in South Africa and my country and it is only fair to communicate with it in matters that adress all races.
    But in South Africa l wonder when that will be achieved, lm oftenly visiting there on business and sometimes l find most people arrogant when l address them in English, they expect me to speak in Zulu or any of their language. Believe me l love to learn to speak many languages and l dont see a point in pretending to know the language when l dont, why should l say “Hebo Bhudhi, unjani?” when l cant last a one minute conversation in that language?
    Please correct me if lm wrong, l dont intent to insult or upset any group of people here but l believe most black South Africans dont have a good command of the English language and MTN should be forgiven for considering such “Ayoba-ness” in their campaign because they will be afraid of losing some clients by starting and ending the whole AD in English.
    Well for me l didnt know what it mearnt but l just like how they say it, l actually came through your article because l was seaching the meaning of Ayoba on the net.

  22. 31 BrattStar
    February 2, 2010 at 11:00 am


    Most successful campaign in the history of MTN…AYOBA!

    In your face, GFYH etc to all the playa haters.

  23. 32 fukmtn
    November 25, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    ye fuk mtn fuk all you fukin zionist cell phone providers you have been sucking our blood for years you fukin leaches…but a big proper fuck to mtn…heres me working in deep dark central africa for three months now earning good nosh…before leaving they were informed i would settle all outsatndong payments when i returned “fine” they said…now i find out my number has been blocked and ready for blacklisting…you cunts.. you ever tried fukin phoneing mtn to speak to real person…i must of spent over 500ZAR trying to sort it from central africa to no fukin avail!! jo maa se poes

  24. 33 Magnus
    December 9, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Ah man, tell me about it! I woke up this morning thinking, “KENAAAAAAAAAAAAAKOooooh!”. Just then, Darren Simpson said the same thing. I could do nothing but shake my head and don a sardonic grin.

    ST, dude… you’re a legend. Keep it up.

  25. 34 jaymack
    February 5, 2011 at 11:04 am

    It’s not so much the word AYOBA! that irritates me as the asshole who shouts it.

    • February 6, 2011 at 8:27 pm

      Yeah, I hear you brother.

      It was really funny though because I banged this post out long before the World Cup hit our shores and fuck me, every second goddamn tourist you came across that month were blowing vuvuzelas like their lives depended on it and shouting ‘AYOBA!’ like they’d discovered the magical word that instantly made them African.

      And every time I saw a group of people like that I thought, ‘I’ll bet at least one of those douchebags Googled the word and maybe not him, and maybe not the douchebag after him, but SOME douchebag sooner or later probably ended up reading this post and now, thanks to MTN this post is inside that poor person’s head, somewhere deep in there and they can never get it out.’


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