“Dehumanizing” – UK TV reality show ‘The British Tribe Next Door’ filmed in Namibia stirs massive controversy

Mohammed Awal October 31, 2019
Credit: Channel 4

A television reality show – that cast a wealthy British family living next door to a Namibian tribe – has received mixed reactions from viewers. The controversial show, The British Tribe Next Door was shot in Kaokoland in Namibia’s Kunene region. The new show by Scarlett Moffatt aired Tuesday showed the former Gogglebox star living alongside the Himba community in the Namibian tribal village, in a replica of her parents’ house in Newcastle.

The show was met with mixed reactions from viewers on social media hours after it aired. It left some viewers “uncomfortable”, reports MailOnline with angry fans even insisting it “screams privilege” as they built a replica of Scarlett’s family home with running water in the impoverished village.

“Culturally insulting and exploitative to the highest order… It smacks of colonialism and cultural exploitation, and will probably destroy the group who took part. Utterly irresponsible,” observed one social media user.

 Scarlett appeared to fit in with the tribe
Credit: Channel 4

Others also lauded the concept behind the show and its uniqueness.

 “One of the most fascinating programmes I have ever seen. It’s not insulting to the Namibians, but a total wake-up call for us. By the end of it, we’ll all look differently at our lives… Was genuinely ready to hate [the show] but actually enjoying it. If nothing else, it’s a lesson in unnecessary excess…,” said one social media user.

 Viewers have called the Channel 4 production 'disgusting'
Credit: Channel 4

“Watching #thetribenextdoor. Bit worried when they built the house, was it going to be one of THOSE shows. But I’m loving learning more about the Himba tribe and seeing how life can be simpler and how frivolous we’ve become,” another added.

“#thebritishtribenextdoor the people calling this show arrogant are actually the arrogant ones. Because they are clearly thinking it’s about showing how privileged we are to the primitive people. Actually, it’s about realizing how ridiculous are lives are in many ways!” a different user observed.

“@ScarlettMoffatt what a wonderful wonderful programme! Ignore the idiots, the tribespeople came across as so wonderful! Your family did too! It’s made me reevaluate what’s really important, thank you #thebritishtribenextdoor,” said another show watcher.

“Just finished watching #thebritishtribenextdoor and WOW what a programme! Absolute genius TV and @ScarlettMoffatt and her family are perfect for the programme! [heart emoji] can’t wait for the next episode [hand emojis]” a different fan added.

 Scarlett's house was completed with WiFi, running water and electricity
Credit: Channel 4

Meanwhile, the show has been described by a charity organization, No White Saviors as ‘dehumanizing’.

A spokesman for the charity told MailOnline: “It is dehumanising and harmful. They are making a mockery of African lifestyles, and more specifically, Namibian traditional ways of living. 

“This home seems to have electricity, running water, wifi and all other comforts required by such outsiders – all while contrasting the Namibian’s lack of access as entertainment. 

“It’s terribly ironic that they were able to build a middle-class British home in an African homestead, all amenities included. This home seems to have electricity, running water, wifi and all other comforts required by such outsiders – all while contrasting the Namibian’s lack of access as entertainment. 

“They’d rather develop a twisted “reality” TV show than to invest in actual development within these communities.”

“This is a prime example of how white and western people are entertained by Africa’s under-development and are continuously benefiting from it- from the exploitation of our resources to mission trips to poverty tourism,” the spokesperson added.

Scarlett hit back at critics and insisted her family left a water borehole, which is maintained by someone, for their friends in Namibia.

She tweeted: “Just to clarify we left a water borehole for our friends when we left Namibia which someone maintains #britishtribenextdoor ❤️.”

Channel 4 said in a statement the new show was in “celebration of our shared humanity, exploring the cultural exchange of two contrasting but equally viable 21st-century ways of living. It is hoped the series will stimulate debate about values and attitudes to community bonds, family life, sexuality, treatment of the elderly, and raising children.”

Filming of the controversial show started in May and was completed by the end of June 2019.

Last Edited by:Victor Ativie Updated: September 30, 2020


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