Hilarious cancer detection tips by South African actor Lillian Dube, not government minister

“Where in the world would a minister say something like this?” asks a seemingly outraged Facebook user in South Africa in a 15 July 2020 post. He adds: “WTAF.”

The user is referring to a two-minute video clip of a man interviewing an elderly woman wearing a duku, or headwrap, in a TV studio.

The woman talks about her passion for cancer education after having been diagnosed with breast cancer herself. But she soon has the presenter covering his face with his hand while shouts of laughter come from off-camera.

“Cancer in the early stages is not painful. So it is not easy for a person to know they’ve got cancer,” she says.

“That is why I encourage men to suck those titties, and I encourage women …”

She breaks off as the laughter starts, then asks: “It is embarrassing? You don’t suck a titty? What do you suck?”

After a while she resumes: “So I encourage men to suck those titties, and women to squeeze those bolletjies. In that way, if you are a man … you can know you have testicular cancer. And if you are sucking that titty and you find something that’s not nice, like a lump, then you go for a mammogram.”

The post has been viewed more than 46,000 times in a week. But did a South African government minister give this advice?

Defeating the internet

A quick keyword search reveals that the woman is in fact veteran South African actor Lillian Dube.

Dube put the awkward questions to SABC Sport at 10 anchor Thomas Mlambo in a live interview on 29 August 2018 – and so, according to one report, “defeated the internet”.

Dube is perhaps best known for starring in hit South African TV shows such as Soul City, Skwizas, Muvhango and Generations. But her decades-long career includes roles in acclaimed films such as Mapantsula (1987), The Good Fascist (1992), Cry, the Beloved Country (1995) and Mia and the White Lion (2018).

In 2008 Dube underwent chemotherapy and surgery for breast cancer. She remained in remission until 2015, when the cancer returned, again needing surgery. She has become a vocal advocate of cancer awareness.

It’s not clear which government minister the Facebook user thought Dube was.

It may have been Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, minister of cooperative governance, who has had a high profile during the Covid-19 crisis for her role in announcing sometimes unpopular measures to curb the outbreak. Dlamini-Zuma is often seen in public wearing an elaborate headwrap. – Mary Alexander


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