Khaya Mthethwa recently became the first black contestant to win South Africa’s televised “Idols SA” contest. (Google Images)

The New York Times is reporting that viewers of “Idols SA,” the South African counterpart to the popular televised competition “American Idol,” have named Khaya Mthethwa the season eight winner—making him the first black contestant to be so declared. Many blame discrepancies in wealth, and therefore access to the satellite channel on which the show is broadcast, for the lack of diversity amongst winners for the past seven seasons.

According to The New York Times:

“At the end of season 6, when a white rock musician named Elvis Blue beat black soul singer Lloyd Cele by almost twice as many votes, a former judge in the competition, Mara Louw, lashed out.

‘Lloyd should have won,’ she was quoted as saying in an interview with City Press, a Sunday newspaper. ‘Blacks do not have access to DStv. This excludes a sizable chunk of South Africans from the competition. Whites vote for whites and blacks are disadvantaged,’ Ms. Louw was quoted as saying. ‘I am sick and tired of being politically correct. The whites refuse to vote for blacks.’

Eusebius McKaiser, a political analyst whose new book, ‘A Bantu in My Bathroom,’ tackles South Africa’s lingering racial tensions, said he had no doubt that if ‘Idols’ were shown on the national broadcaster, whose channels are free, a black winner would have emerged much earlier. ‘We would be talking about when Idols would have its first white winner,’ said Mr. McKaiser, who is also a rabid fan of the show, posting exuberantly on Twitter for #TeamKhaya.”

However, more blacks may now be accessing channels such as M-Net, which broadcasts “Idols SA,” accounting for the increase in votes resulting in Mthethwa’s win. Still, some fans may not be tuning in or voting because they feel that “Idols SA” is not representative of the truly popular musical styles of South Africa, such as kwaito, house music, and Afro pop.

Read more about this story at The New York Times.

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