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American journalist learns the hard way White privilege doesn’t work in Africa

Martha O’Donovan (Facebook)

Martha O’Donovan, an NYU graduate, bartender and journalist for Magamba TV, which produces “satirical comedy sensations,” is in jail. She was arrested at her home in the Zimbabwean capital Harare on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, for a Twitter rant. The charge is a suspicion of trying to overthrow the country’s government by allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe, 93, on Twitter.

On Oct. 11, it’s reported O’Donovan, 25, anonymously tweeted that Mugabe is a “very selfish and sick man.” The post even claimed he was surviving on a catheter. Officials say they traced the Twitter account @matigary, which allegedly posted the tweet, to O’Donovan’s address through its IP address. The tweet actually read: “We are being led by a sick and selfish man,” a statement which qualifies as a criminal offense and an attempt to undermine authority and insult the president.

Martha O’Donovan (Facebook)

In a statement,O’Donovan said: “I deny the allegations leveled against me as baseless and malicious.”

This is the first arrest of this kind since H.E. Mugabe appointed a minister for cybersecurity last month. According to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, nearly 200 people have been criminally charged with insulting H.E. Mugabe.

O’Donovan has been working in Zimbabwe for the last year. She is a native of Martinsville, New Jersey. Earlier this year, she presented a talk at a republica digital culture conference on “How Zimbabweans Rebel Online.”

Magamba TV (Twitter)

Following a brief hearing in court, O’Donovan was ordered to remain in custody until her next court appearance scheduled for Nov. 15. Her lawyers say they will appeal for her to be granted bail at the High Court on Monday.

A #FreeMartha campaign on social media demanding her release has gone viral. There is no evidence of the tweet online and @Matigari has deleted all of its posts prior to Oct. 27.

O’Donovan faces up to 20 years in prison.


  1. Jason on November 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Oh well. I can’t say that I actually give a hoot about redhead. She should have assimilated into the country that was nice enough to allow her to be there. She should have been GRATEFUL to the country of Zimbabwe for allowing her to enter and work there. Keep her ass locked up.

    • john lyttle on November 5, 2017 at 5:05 am

      Yes, anyone who speaks truth to power and challenges a corrupt and vicious tyrant who has plundered their country’s wealth for personal gain, stifles free speech in the name of vanity and has murdered his fellow citizens by the thousands deserves everything they get. Send me your address – I’d like to send you a moral compass for Christmas. The one you have clearly isn’t working.

      • Jason on November 5, 2017 at 9:06 am

        Boo hoo. She knew what she was getting herself into BEFORE she decided to go to an African country. She should have shown respect by leaving if she didn’t want to follow the rules. I think the suspected White Supremacists call is assimilation. You know that practice of basically abandoning everything to are to “fit in” and be accepted by the dominant culture? You know the cultures that tell those who refuse to assimilate to LEAVE if they don’t like it?

      • Tipper3 on November 5, 2017 at 10:36 pm

        You are wrong! You do not travel to another country and criticize that country. That is the ultimate disrespect…now I guess she will expect America to send in the military to get her azz. Why is she even in Africa?

      • Arbitr^rY^[email protected] on November 7, 2017 at 11:36 am

        …sounds like the western banking system.. #GoCAPS

    • H Rap Black on November 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Assimilation has nothing to do with basic human rights. We should ALL be outraged at Mugabe’s tyranny. @Jason, your statements sound like what the same bigots and racist white folk say about us in Amerikkka. Can’t have it both ways if we really want change.

      • Jason on November 5, 2017 at 1:26 pm

        I have never been to Zim, so I am not sure what to believe about him. I have also heard that he kicked most Whites off the land they had stolen earlier in the country’s history. I have no problem with that. Unless you have gone to Zim and witnessed Mugabe’s “crimes” you can’t tell me anything about him.

      • Tipper3 on November 5, 2017 at 10:38 pm

        At least he wants to keep Africa for Africans…I guess Ms. Thang does not like that about him.

  2. Sniffy on November 4, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    ?? She was right about Mugabe. D00d is an old, evil dictator whose time was past 2 decades ago. Hating on the white girl is a lil bit wrong here.

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    • Jason on November 5, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      That girl can hold her own nuts on this one. I can’t ride with her on this. White people need to know their place when in Africa.

    • Tipper3 on November 5, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      Heifer should know when to speak and when to leave. You can’t go to Africa and tell them what to do because of your white privilege.

      • Sniffy on November 6, 2017 at 2:29 pm

        oh right, I forgot it is always wrong for white people to denounce black African dictators. Idi Amin was a great man.

        • Tipper3 on November 6, 2017 at 2:44 pm

          Denounce your home grown American racists and dictators before you call out another country or keep your flib lips shut.

    • Tipper3 on November 6, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      Call out home bred racist and dictators before you flap your jaws about other countries.

  3. john lyttle on November 5, 2017 at 5:07 am

    The snarky, cheap and wholly misleading clickbait headline on this piece about freedom of speech does rollingout absolutely no favours.

    • Yvette Caslin on November 6, 2017 at 10:02 am

      Freedom of Speech is an American right, 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. It doesn’t apply in Zimbabwe. Hence, white privilege.

  4. Mari Juan on November 5, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    This had nothing to do with the headline….smh. Next time yall make clickbait I will officially stop coming to this site. Disrespectful, journalistically and morally.

    • Yvette Caslin on November 6, 2017 at 10:00 am

      How did you conclude this is click bait?

  5. Tipper3 on November 5, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Why is she there? She should have stayed in NJ. It amazes me that American Caucasians always travel to Africa but they discourage African-American from traveling there…Oh Well!

    • Jason on November 6, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Good point there. When I was in S.A. many of the Blacks told me that they are very interested in meeting and knowing U.S. born Blacks. They said Blacks from the U.S. don’t come to S.A. often, and when they are there many of them don’t interact with the people. Blacks in the U.S. have got to start traveling to Africa and interacting with their distant relatives.

      • Yvette Caslin on November 6, 2017 at 10:03 am


      • Tipper3 on November 6, 2017 at 1:12 pm

        I’ll tell you what my dad told me. The same way all Caucasians are not the same…some are Irish, Italian, British etc., all Africans are not the same. Just because we all have variations of dark skin, we are from different tribes and peoples. Unfortunately, when Caucasians brought Africans from Africa as slaves to America they mated them like animals and now you have a (mess). I cannot go to Africa and interact as family with people just because our skin color is similar. What I did was get my DNA done and now I know what part of Africa I came from and if I am ever blessed to visit I will go to those (2) places in Africa where I have the most DNA. Due to slave breeding I also have European, South American and Catawba Indian DNA. I love and respect Africa but you can’t just go and interact with all. If Africans in Africa want to know those in the U.S. then they should act like it and not act so snobbish when they immigrate to America. There are several African families at my church and they are rude, nasty and separate themselves, they only smile and speak with the Caucasian members of the congregation. Just saying!

    • Yvette Caslin on November 6, 2017 at 10:03 am

      When in Zimbabwe, do as Zimbabweans do. Assert your rights to free speech in the U.S.