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How are South Africans reacting to Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover?

A visitor stands in front of a row of African flags in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko
How South African is Elon Musk? Musk, Born in Pretoria, South Africa, to a Canadian mother and white South African father, he left South Africa at age 17 to move to Canada for university.
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Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover has been met with mixed reactions from South Africa – the country where Musk was born. The news sent Twitter users in South Africa into a frenzy, with the hashtags #twittertakeover #elonmusk #spacex and #apartheid trending in the country.

Most noticeably, the news has sparked debate over Musk’s identity, with questions over whether he identifies as American, Canadian, or South African. Holding citizenship in the three countries, there has been debate on his ethnicity and his connections to his birthplace.

Musk, born in Pretoria, South Africa, to a Canadian mother and white South African father, left South Africa at age 17 to move to Canada for university. Several years later, he emigrated to America where he has been living ever since.

How are South Africans identifying with Elon Musk?

Despite the ongoing debate, some South Africans have reacted with pride that the richest man in the world was born in Pretoria and now owns one of the biggest platforms. Some have said that this should inspire other South Africans and Africans to become successful entrepreneurs.

“Have you taken a moment to understand #ElonMusk) (#RichestMan in the world) is from South Africa? It makes me proud he grew up in my hometown #Pretoria.” tweeted Ofentse Maja.

Many people including South Africans are however highlighting the fact that Musk was never the average South African speaking to his privileges as a white man from a wealthy family, in a country where unemployment affects 35% of the population.

Do South Africans feel that Elon Musk owes the country of his birth something?

There have also been calls for Musk to buy struggling South African companies and invest in the country.

“Here is the list of things/companies in South Africa I’d really wish you can buy – Eskom, NSFAS, Home Affairs, Justice department” tweeted @MichaDaMusic.

Others also made calls for Musk to buy Eskom—South Africa’s national electricity company—as the country has been dealing with severe power outages for several months. On Apr. 9 2022, the utility warned that there may be more than 100 days of electricity blackouts this year.

Calls have not just extended to South African companies, but citizens have also been tweeting at Musk to buy South Africa. Recent flood damage, the spread of covid-19 and power outages has left the economy reeling – leaving some proposing that the country would be better off in the hands of Musk, than the current ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC).

Last year, it was reported that Musk is worth more than the GDP of South Africa.

However, some have also lamented Musk’s lack of support for his home country.

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