Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom insists that "Bongo Bongo Land" simply means land of the antelope
Unrepentant MEP refuses to back down or apologise over comments that caused storm of protest, insisting there was no racist intent behind phrase
Thursday 08 August 2013
Godfrey Bloom, the rogue Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber remains unrepentant in the face of a storm over comments he made about "Bongo Bongo Land".
Speaking to ITV's Daybreak programme he insisted the phrase was not racist as a bongo is a type of antelope, so he was simply referring to a land of the antelopes.
"If anybody would care to take a look at the Oxford dictionary this morning, they would find 'bongo' is a white antelope that lives in the forest," he said.
He added: "There is no connotation of racism about whatsoever. 'Bongo Land' is the land of the antelope."
But the interviewer, Kate Garraway, interjected: "You weren't talking about a white antelope were you?"
Bloom replied: "The point I'm making is some people have interpreted it as a a racist remark, but there is no evidence in any dictionary at all that it implies racism."
But Bloom's explanation is a little unconvincing, given that the online Oxford definition is "a forest antelope that has a chestnut coat with narrow white vertical stripes, native to central Africa."
In an earlier interview, Bloom told Channel 4 News that "President Bongo of Gabon [is] the current president of Gabon, and his name is Bongo". The MEP eventually became frustrated with the questioning in that interview and stormed out.
The phrase "Bongo Bongo Land" has been notorious since Alan Clarke, then a Tory minister, used it to refer to Africa in 1985 in an official meeting.
Although Ukip has now banned its members from using the phrase, with its chairman describing it as "lazy" and "old fashioned", it remains to be seen whether Bloom will toe the party line.
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