Sampa The Great Boycotts Melbourne Bar After Owner Says He Is Afraid Of Hosting African Shows

"I'm totally afraid of hosting African shows now."

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African-Australian artist Sampa The Great is boycotting Melbourne venue Night Cat after its owner said in a Facebook comment that he was afraid of hosting “African shows”.

“I’m totally afraid of hosting African shows now,” Night Cat owner Justin Stanford wrote on Thursday in a Facebook comment thread about nightclub riots in Melbourne. “[The rioters] were so big and so high on ice and so committed to violence for the fun of it.”

The Night Cat Sampa The Great

By Friday, Stanford had apologised.

“The recent situations at venues in Melbourne have been unnerving for me as a venue owner; however, I now realise that my comments in response to this were culturally insensitive and do not reflect the views of the venue staff,” he said in a Facebook post on Night Cat’s page. “I deplore the discrimination being perpetrated against these communities by elements of the media and I apologise unreservedly for my remarks.”

In the comments, employees defended Stanford.

“I have been working in this venue for over eight 8 years,” Stefany Oliveira wrote. “I can guarantee you that it is a place where diversity is embraced.”

But the apology didn’t sway Sampa The Great, who said the original comments by Stanford were “disappointing at best.”

“So much African art and music has been performed in this venue, including 2 sold out shows of mine,” she wrote in her own Facebook post. “It is racism at its most basic form to villainise and vilify my community, a whole race of people, while simultaneously profiting from our culture, music and art.”

“We deserve better, and I will not play at Night Cat again.”

Sampa The Great (real name: Sampa Tembo) was born in Zambia, and lived in Botswana before basing herself in Australia from 2014. Earlier this year, she won the Australian Music Prize for her record Birds And The BEE9.

Others also quickly boycotted Night Cat: melbourne synth-punk band Nun moved their November album launch from Stanford’s venue to Thornbury Theatre, saying that they “do not tolerate bigotry or hatred”.

On Twitter, patrons also boycotted.