A Spanish reality TV show has been strongly criticised by Spanish NGOs
in Namibia for perpetuating negative stereotypes of Namibia's ethnic
groups, writes Nangula Shejavali in The Namibian.

The show ‘Perdidos En La Tribu’ – or  ‘Lost in the Tribe’ – on Spain’s Channel Cuatro features three middle-class Spanish families trying to assimilate with one of three ethnic groups – the San and Himba of Namibia, and one from Indonesia – with the aim supposedly being to see which family best integrates into their assigned tribe.

But while this might sound like a bit of good fun for some, the reality – according to the show ‘s critics at least – is that the reality show portrays something far from reality.

They claim the producers having gone out of their way to stretch the truth and make the people of these communities appear “extra primitive”.
Silvia Sala, the National Co-ordinator of the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (FCEAR) in Namibia, says they decided to denounce the show after seeing an episode which showed the  “misportrayal of the San to capture an audience”.

“It’s supposed to be a reality show, but it ridicules them (San) to a large extent based on stereotypes,” Sala says. FCEAR works on various development projects with the San of the Donkerbos-Sonneblom community, many of whose members took part in the reality show.

to be a part of the show, the families were taken 700 km from their homes in the Omaheke Region to Mariental for filming. For a month they lived in huts instead of the corrugated-iron structures they inhabit at Donkerbos, and had to wear traditional loincloths instead of the Western-style clothes they normally wear.

San children were taken out of school for the month of filming and adults were paid N$2 100 for participating, while children received N$800 each.

FCEAR says the San should have been paid more, given the popularity of the show, which has more than 2,4 million viewers. One member of the San community told Sala that they were instructed to portray their culture as it used to be, and not as it is now.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Namibian's website.