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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Ooh, eh eh ... just one small cap is enough!': servants, detergents, and their prosthetic significance
Author:Ally, ShireenISNI
Periodical:African Studies (ISSN 1469-2872)
Geographic term:South Africa
race relations
soap industry
domestic workers
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020184.2013.851464
Abstract:This article explores the potent entanglements of race and servitude in the historical drama of dirt and domesticity. It focuses on an advert in South Africa for the laundry detergent Omo, in which a black 'fairy godmother' maid magically materializes in an on-screen suburban domestic scene, whacking her white madam on the hand, while humorously admonishing her: 'Ooh eh eh just one small cap is enough!?'. The author argues that the iconographic assemblage of maid-madam-dirt-detergent-machine in the Omo advert dramatizes the labouring hands of black servants that have historically kept their colonial masters, literally and figuratively, white. Tracing the histories of servants and detergents, laundry and labour, and tool and toil, the author argues that the Omo ad resolved - through inversion, parody and humour - the colonial paradox of the dependency of white cleanliness on ' unclean' black labour, by figuring the servant as a prosthesis, and as a joke. The servant, however, is uncanny, the joke is unfunny, and the laughter attending the ad is nervous. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]