More shrill objections
At 6:32 this morning (yes, I get up early) I heard Morning Edition commentator Renee Montagne refer to George Bush’s upcoming trip to the “dark continent.” That’s Africa, in case you were thrown by the use of a nineteenth century colonial stereotype in the twentieth century. I’ve been trying to find confirmation online that she actually said that, but can’t seem to. Did I make it up? I’m positive I didn’t, but then perception and memory are not so reliable as we seem to think. Such an odd thing to say, and so stupid. But, here’s something equally stupid and racist that I can find, so let me yelp my indignation into the intertubes.
You can find more here if you care too.
Kiwango, in case you were wondering, means number, or level, or maybe statistic in swahili. Because, yes, Africa is just a dark statistic counting an amount of misery.
Who buys those shirts? Who designs them? I can’t figure it out.
Nice way of expressing things.
I’m using printouts of this t-shirt as an example of how race and suffering gets made into a spectacle for viewing (the end of Travels with Charley has a very strange and disturbing section where Steinbeck goes to watch the morning ritual of white southerners cursing and harassing black schoolchildren in formerly white schools, and it’s strangely and distrubingly a spectacle. Which is his point. I think.)
My question: can I purchase one of these t-shirts for use as a prop in future classes? The Kiwango one is just too perfect in its perversity (Africa as cipher), but I also don’t want to give those fuckers my ten clams.
The dark continent is also famously what Freud called female sexuality. So maybe Renee Montaigne was saying Bush was going to…? No, that really doesn’t make it better.
I was going to ask you what you thought of Bush’s visit to Tanzania. That’s why I checked up on your blog. According to GW, Tanzanians love him!
Hey PM! Nice to hear from you.
But yeah, mainland Tanzanians are pretty ok with him. The government likes him because he’s increased aid, sort of; don’t get me started on why that’s not as good as it sounds. But most people (it seems to me) were into him for other reasons. Evangelical christianity is huge, and a lot of Tanzanian christians are with him on that basis alone. They don’t know him all that well; lucky them. But there’s also a sort of widespread perception that Bush is fighting the muslims, and on that basis, a lot of mainland Tanzanians also find him attractive. Tanzania still has tension between the majority muslim Zanzibar/Pemba islands/swahili coast and the “bara” mainland, which is not majority muslim; under Nyerere, Tanganyika and Zanzibar were united (and there was a lot of bloodshed and ethnic violence) and even though those politics certainly don’t quite map onto a muslim/nonmuslim grid, a lot of Tanzanians perceive it that way (i.e. George Bush is the enemy of the muslims + I dislike the Zanzibari = I like Bush). There’s also memory of embassy bombing in Dar, where a lot of Tanzanians died, which makes TZ more part of the war on terror and stuff.
Also, there have been protests against Bush in TZ: http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnB295679.html
TZ also just discovered oil (the lease was given to an American company and a South African company) and the increased role that Africa is supposed to play in providing secure sources of oil for the US is behind a lot of this. Also the United States has big plans for an increased military presence in Africa (AFRICOM) and given how lousy Ethiopia and Kenya are looking these days, Tanzania has suddenly emerged on the radar in new ways.
This is all, by the way, terrible news.
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