Artist Makode Linde is a Confused Racist Mulatto

Makode is a confused Mulatto

The concept of Afromantics by Afro-Swedish artist Makode Linde, has got nothing to do with Africans as portrayed in the cake cutting theme of female genital mutilation (FGM). He has been criticized for being insensitive to African women and that he understands nothing about the pain of FGM. I can even bet my last dime that he has never visited his African ancestral roots. In fact he is a typical example of many other confused Swedish “Mulattoes” who have no particular description or identity of their African background, because they disregard that parentage. Makode says and writes online that his father came from “West Africa” and his mother is Swedish. Where in West Africa? From this, I believe he has no emotional attachment with his father. How then, could he make a cake representing the pain of an African woman undergoing FGM?

Online information about Afromantics at urbanlife.com
“To those familiar with the Minstrel shows (white actors painted black performed caricatures of African-Americans in degrading stereotypes where blacks were seen as less knowledgeable, lazy, and second-class human beings) from the early 1800 up to the late 1900’s, or Gollywog dolls, these images below may seem offensive – but that isn’t the sole objective of Afro-Swedish artist Makode Linde. However, the Afromantics exhibition is clearly designed to make you think.

Visitors to Afromantics will see everything from Beethoven and the Statue of Liberty to Robocop – each figure painted black and adorned with a couple of big white eyes and a pair of thick red lips in an obscure grin. Yes, the old Western caricatures of a black man’s appearance however, this is with clever intent.

With deceptive ease and humour, Makode Linde’s work shows western conceptions of the good man and the good life in junction with the perception of the Other. A whole army of small mutations are formed that demonstrates a totally romanticized vision of the part of western history that is characterized by violence, slavery and racism.”

Afromantics has borrowed heavily from the concept of ‘Blackface’ that Makode also talked about in his Swedish TV4 and SVT defenses about his art cake.

Here’s Wikipedia’s description of Blackface
“Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used in minstrel shows, and later vaudeville, in which performers create a stereotyped caricature of a black person. The practice gained popularity during the 19th century and contributed to the proliferation of stereotypes such as the “happy-go-lucky darky on the plantation” or the “dandified coon”. In 1848, blackface minstrel shows were the national art of the time, translating formal art such as opera into popular terms for a general audience. Early in the 20th century, blackface branched off from the minstrel show and became a form in its own right, until it ended in the United States with the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.”

The above two descriptions have got nothing to do with Africans in Africa and are purely concerned with the history of African-Americans in USA. His controversial cake therefore depicts a misogynistic character in him; he understands nothing about African women, let alone FGM. Moreover, African-Americans have no history of practicing FGM. It is instead a complete misrepresentation. Makode made the Culture Minister Liljeroth and her spectators laugh while cutting the cake, instead of showing empathy to the theme of FGM. According to Makode, he succeeded in his exhibition of the ‘African woman cake’ because he provoked a debate. What debate? So far, the strong reactions have featured racism more than discussing FGM. His is nothing but a hypocritical and selfish opportunist. It was about him gaining fame with his crude, racist portrayal of the black race that he also genetically belongs to. Any smart thinking person would question whether his ‘cries’ while the Minister and other whites sliced through the cake’s lower torso exposing the ‘bloody ghastly innards’, were commensurate with their joys and laughter?

Some reactions in the social media:
“According to the Moderna Museet, the ‘cake party’ was meant to problematize female circumcision but how that is accomplished through a cake representing a racist caricature of a black woman complete with ‘black face’ is unclear,” Kitimbwa Sabuni, the spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association told the The Local.  “One cannot see how it benefits those people to degrade them in this way with racist caricatures in this kind of mocking spectacle.”

Sabuni argues that the Minister’s act of cutting the cake had “cannibalistic overtones”:

“Her participation, as she laughs, drinks, and eats cake, merely adds to the insult against people who suffer from racist taunts and against women affected by circumcision.” He said. “We have no confidence in her any longer.”

Minister Liljeroth’s response:

“I was invited to speak at World Art Day about art’s freedom and the right to provoke. And then they wanted me to cut the cake. [He] claims that it challenges a romanticized and exoticized view from the west about something that is really about violence and racism. Art needs to be provocative.”

Here’s Makode’s reaction on Facebook about his exhibition, which clearly explains that he was after attention and not necessarily concerned about FGM:

“This is after getting my vagaga mutilated by the minister of culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth. Before cutting me up she whispered ‘Your life will be better after this’ in my ear.”

Freelance writer Tiff “Coffey” J wrote this:

“While art is indeed supposed to encourage discourse, I’m not exactly sure what to make of Makode Linde’s art installation, as I’m not familiar with his body of work or any recurring themes any of it is supposed to invoke. I will say that the image of a man, in Minstrel makeup, portraying an African woman and victim of FGM as a caricature for a predominantly White audience, is unsettling. Particularly since his message of awareness seemed to be lost in translation amongst the sea of laughing and smiling European faces; none of which showed any semblance of concern about the intended message of Female Genital Mutilation or its effect on African women. Perhaps the artist set out to intentionally evoke the laissez-faire reaction from event goers, to prove a point.”

Nerdy Feminist’s reaction:

“Even if you could strip away racist and sexist imagery, who the hell wants to eat what looks like a bloodied body?! But truth is, you can’t strip away levels of shit going on here. Amongst the critics are the Afro Swedes’ Association saying that the “art” relies on a racist caricature. Here, here. Other critics took to Twitter. As Professor Blair LM Kelley said, “Blackface, check. Red distorted lips, check. Man portraying a misshapen black woman, check. Laughter, check. That’s minstrelsy.”

It’s clearly very hard to deny the racism here. I mean, we have someone in black face and a bunch of white people are digging into the body, literally devouring her. It’s sick. And just as old as minstrelsy, we have the sexist element of the disembodiment of women, whose parts are isolated and emphasized in an effort to deny their humanity.

But beyond all that fucked-up-ery, I simply fail to see how this possibly conveys that FGM is a problem. It seems to mock it instead, from the fact that Liljeroth had to say that disturbing line to the imagery of them all yucking it up as they eat the woman’s labia and body–I mean, what the actual fuck? How is this remotely conveying an anti-FGM message?”

According to Cade DeBois at feministe.us:

“I honestly just don’t know how to respond to this. There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to begin.

1. The degrading racial caricature of an African woman

2. The disembodiment, objectification and disfigurement *in jest* of something depicting an African woman’s body

3. The utter cultural insensitivity and arch-colonial patronizing toward women who actually have had FGM

4. That this is a male artist who joked about getting his “vagaga” mutilated. Wonder if he would think this was as funny if it was something humorous depicting his own genitalia being mutilated.

5. That the freaking minister of culture went along with this.

6. Oh and in case you missed it (and I don’t recommend seeing this is you are sensitive) the interior of the cake was dyed blood red. There are pics of it on the artist’s FB page. It looks like they were trying to depict a woman being sawed in half, like something out of the imagination of a violently rabid misogynist. It made me queasy.

7. None of this seems to suggest *anyone* involved understands how genuinely painful, scarring and traumatic FGM can be for many women or how in some regions, women are forced to undergo FGM against their will and even violently, and too often without proper medical care afterwards, leading to infection, further pain and even death. Why would you think this is an appropriate way to address such an issue? What next? A rape victim cake?

I’m just horrified.”

My conclusion

I feel that although racism might be a strong word to describe the unfortunate act of performing ‘clitoridectomy’ on the ‘African woman cake’ by Minister Liljeroth, I am bound to accept it because the caricature-look Makode used in the theme was racist in the eyes of many African-Americans, from online reactions. It is not related to Africans either and shows that Makode’s art is for personal fame and benefit, more than exposing FGM, which he is clueless about. Makode and his ilk suffer from ‘inbuilt/subconscious’ racism. As for the Culture Minister being an anti-racist feminist, she can tell that to her dogs. Covert racism is always spiced by public appearances/acts showing that one sympathizes with a certain cause/race, while mentally they have no relation with it. Liljeroth is described as an upper class Swede who obviously saw her mutilation of the cake as humorous. Her words whispered in Linde’s ear during the ‘cut’ left a lot to be desired: “Your life will be better after this.” It was well-planned to promote the confused, twisted and racist Mulatto’s ‘gory artwork’.

This was a reminder of ‘primitive sexuality’ used on Saarjite Baartman (the Hottentot Venus), a young Khosian woman who came from South Africa to England in 1810, and was publicly displayed in England and France for five years, to show her enlarged buttocks. She became a spectacle of dark humor and debate about the African woman’s sexuality from a European’s perspective. After her death at age 26, her genitalia was removed, covered in wax and publicly displayed in a French museum, to exhibit the African woman’s ‘primitive sexual appetite’. Her body was later claimed by the South African government for a decent burial in the early 2000s. Many years later, the Swedish Culture Minister has dug a knife into the genitalia of a cake figure exaggerated to look like the Hottentot Venus and it is called art. Meanwhile, real-life girls and women continue suffering from the physical and mental scars of FGM in Africa and the Arab world.

Joyce Chipenda
Disgusted African woman in Sweden

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62 comments

  • Let Them Eat Cake
    April 20, 2012 by Janell Hobson (Msmagazine)

    On first sight, it’s pretty clear why Afro-Swedish male artist Makode Linde‘s performance art piece “Painful Cake,” which premiered at Sweden’s Moderna Museet for World Art Day last week, struck many people as just plain wrong.

    The performance featured a black-iced cake in a caricature of an African woman’s torso, complete with protuberant breasts and a bulging stomach. Forming her “head” was Linde’s actual head, made up in grotesque blackface. As museum guests cut slices of the torso’s nether regions, they revealed red spongecake that mimicked a woman’s bloody insides, and Linde simulated screams of pain and agony.

    According to Linde, the purpose of the piece is to raise awareness about female genital mutilation on the African continent. Of course it’s hard to grasp that meaning when the mostly white guests in attendance are blithely cutting into the cake, taking pictures on their mobile phones and smiling and laughing at the spectacle.

    Because Afro-Europeans are currently dealing with an upsurge in racist sentiments and incidents, I’m hesitant to project my own African American point of view by simply dismissing the ironic effect of Linde’s piece. The artist has long made use of blackface and Golliwog imagery, placing them onto European artifacts in a sort of blackfaced graffiti, literally “tagging” whiteness and disrupting so-called racial purity. Such cultural provocations may indeed be necessary to disrupt the complacency of Scandinavian societies, which have often viewed themselves as less racist in comparison to the United States or to Nazi-era Germany.

    Strikingly, this Swedish art controversy had erupted just as Anders Behring Breivik goes to trial for killing 77 people in a terrorist attack that was couched as white supremacist “resistance” to Norway’s increasing multiculturalism. Such incidents are reminders that, even in countries that are considered progressive in their gender politics, the racial body politic is tearing at the seams. Obviously, no country–no matter how “progressive”–is immune to racism and sexism. If Linde wants to mock European fascination with, contempt for or indifference toward African concerns, then simulating cries of pain while his white guests gleefully cut away at a figurative black female vulva speaks volumes.

    Presenting a caricatured “African” female body at a white-attended museum event also calls attention to a long history of black women’s bodies being displayed as specimens. Take Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman, a native South African woman who lived during the early 19th century. Baartman was exhibited as the “Hottentot Venus” before white audiences in London and Paris, and her genitalia was posthumously “carved up” by scientists and placed in a jar for public viewing. Linde’s performance makes the treatment of Baartman feel much less comfortably like something in the past.

    However, even if the cake succeeds as a critique of Western perceptions of Africa, there are other layers of sheer wrongness.

    Linde’s cross-dressing blackface antics are far too reminiscent of minstrelsy days, especially of when white men blackened up and donned dresses to make fun of black women’s bodies. It’s hard not to see mockery in Linde’s head sitting atop the cake-woman’s overblown proportions. Linde’s performance also calls to mind more recent mimicry of black women’s bodies by black men (Tyler Perry, Eddie Murphy), which perpetuates “angry black women” and “strong and emasculating Matriarch” stereotypes.

    What is the impact of a male artist pretending to feel pain when others cut into his “vagina”? Can that possibly represent the real pain women endure during female genital cutting? And why were the white women present at the performance, including Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, not at all visibly disturbed by this male simulation of female pain? Would they have been comfortable if the cake’s icing was white or pink? Is it so easy not only to gaze upon black stereotypical imagery but also to literally consume it? Their smiling faces demonstrate how quickly racialization can undercut solidarity and empathy.

    Then there’s the idea that the art brings awareness to female genital mutilation, also known as female genital cutting (FGC). Presenting such a serious issue–which impacts millions of women throughout the world–at an art party, via a cake, diminishes it for comic effect. At the same time, the issue of FGC has become so aggrandized in Western understandings of African women’s lives that, according to sociologist Connie G. Oxford, immigrant and refugee women from the African continent can claim political asylum on the grounds of FGC, even if they fled their country for an entirely different reason. Where these women’s experiences with genocide, political persecution and ethnic intimidation may have no political resonance for Westerners, an experience with female circumcision–even during infancy–can be enough to receive asylum.

    This is not at all to diminish the problem of FGC. Women and men in communities throughout Africa have raised awareness and engaged in numerous struggles to outlaw the practice. But when FGC is the only way African women’s bodies are understood from a Western perspective, one could see how Linde, despite his clumsy presentation, might seek to take Europeans’ gaze on African women’s bodies and turn it against them.

    Nonetheless, when this art moves transnationally via social media, does artistic intent matter? Or do our gazes on it change the meaning? Whatever the intent of the piece, once you have seen the video there is no denying that racism and sexism still exist and intersect. There is no forgetting that, somewhere in this world, a woman’s private parts are being maimed–whether in genital surgeries or in acts of sexual violence. And somewhere else in the world, other women are privileged enough to ignore these realities–especially when racial differences are involved–so that they can simply eat cake.

  • It seems likely that the grotesque spectacle which is the fallout of his work was engineered by the artist deliberately. It’s quite illustrative of the easy indifference with which white Westerners treat the suffering of African girls and women – the fact that he’s posed himself as a cake to be eaten seems, to me, symbolic of the way FGC is used as a political football by Westerners who could really give less than two shits about the actual, lived, vivid suffering of the victims of violence. The issue of FGC is consumed for the Western body’s own use.

    In other words, I would hesitate to malign the artist, who used the offensive imagery in service of a greater point. (And yes, there is a lengthy established history of Black artists appropriating racist imagery for use in social critiques such as these.) The people who have damned themselves are the minister and audience.

  • Our minister of culture, ladies and gentlemen, give her a big hand. The woman who wants to replace the word “culture” with “entertainment”, since she’s never gotten anything more out of a book than “the butler did it.” The woman who doesn’t mind if all bookshops close on her watch since “you can always buy paperbacks at petrol stations.” The woman who wants all museums to be run by volunteers working for free. The woman who goes to see brilliantly harsh movies about gender roles and claims she can relate to them “because there was a horse in it, and my daughter loves her horse.” The woman who cancelled state support for literary magazines if they bring up politics, since she cannot see why brainless entertainment would ever have anything to do with politics. The woman who’s happy to cut up cakes shaped like racist stereotypes since hey, it’s just a cake, and what’s racist about a cake?

  • You don’t draw any attention to the issue with such displays of self-indulgence and narcissism. The artist wanted to be bold and stir up controversy for the sake of their work, not for the sake of the FGM issue. Their portrayal of the African woman will only further push FGM practicing communities into defensive mode of preserving their practice. This is offensive and wrong on every level. Racism isn’t even the major problem. How the artist thought they were doing something ‘worthwhile’ I will never understand.

  • really? Where is the racism in his artwork? Hey, you black people like to complain for nothing.Makode did a good job.

  • It’s not the “blackness” of the cake that is offensive, it’s the physical characteristics that are supposedly representative of black people. Look at the face and construct of the cake does that look like any black woman you know? It’s reminiscent of a golliwog which has racist undertones. The cake is not racist because it’s shade is “black” , but racism can be implied by what it bears reference to i.e. Golliwogs. It’s a stereotypical depiction of a black person.

  • “…meant to highlight the issue of female circumcision, the culture minister began cutting a large cake shaped like a black woman, symbolically starting at the clitoris.”

    In all fairness to gender and racial equality – will the drepraved minister also be slicing up a cake depicting a male… made of white-chocolate… starting at the ‘foreskin’?

  • The parallelism doesn’t seem exact, since in the case of genital mutilation the ‘perpetrator’ is not a white non-African. There is something unsettling, to say the least, about a room full of wealthy white art-gallery attendees consuming a caricatured black body. This unsettling nature more accurately communicates the hazards of white european involvement in African genital mutilation than the situation of genital mutilation itself.

  • Wait…did somebody say coloured?? THAT IS THE PROBLEM! It’s not so much about the fact they are bringing attention to female circumcision that goes on in Africa but the flat out ignorance that for some reason only white people seem to possess. This exhibition is like a white person in a room full of black people singing a song that happens to contain the word “Nigga”.

    Whites are blinded by their own “superiority”. They feel as if they can do and say whatever about other races as long as they themselves are not what they would define as racist. Racism is not the issue here…Ignorance and the lack of will to enlighten themselves is.

  • Female genital mutilation is horrible. Making fun of it (eating a cake and screaming) and calling it art is a stupid way that will NOT help solve the problem, and will probably actually incite hate even more. It will only make fools and racist feel like they have done something about this issue and let them go back to their lives.

  • The studpidity of this event is to relate female circumcision with skin color. Not every black woman gets curcumcised. Such generalizations are racist. You wanna provoke? then be racists. But is that the right way to provoke? Surely not.

  • This so-called “art” is grotesque on so many levels working in concert that it’s hard to put a name to each level of grotesqueness. The picture shows the Swedish minister feeding the “artist” cake that, specifically, was cut from her “genitals”. The cake is red enough to clearly represent blood. It looks like sadomasochistic obscenity, not like it is intended to promote sympathy for the poor victims of female genital mutilation in Africa, who deserve better than this ultra-left self-gratification.

    The fact that this promotes sadism rather than sympathy is proven by the fact that as the woman mock screams in pain, “No, No!”, all other participants and onlookers laugh and take pictures. If it promoted sympathy, they would all be in tears.

    Actually eating the cake — apparently many did, by how much is missing — indicates participation and approval, again, especially when accompanied by laughter. It is vanity on their part to think they are so sophisticated, so wise, as to see a message that is the exact opposite of what any ordinary person would see in their actions. “Professing to be wise, they have become fools.”

  • When I first saw the cake, I thought…WHAT IN THE WORLD…?!

    Then I remembered…the world. This is the same world that at one time embraced slavery in every port and where even today women are still bought and sold as slaves. We live in a world where unborn babies are mutilated, slaughtered on a whim and used as human lab rats. We live in a world where baby body parts are sold to the highest bidder. We live in a world where women in some cultures are mutilated — violated beyond belief on a daily basis –this is our world.

    With all the ugliness and pain and suffering of women everywhere, some dim-witted artist comes up with the ‘bright’ idea that it would be amusing to have a cake made depicting a stereotypical racist representation of a black woman — screaming in agony while she is being mutilated with each stabbing slice. I was deeply repulsed–then moved to tears–and then to anger as I watched the Swedish Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth leading the gruesome event– laughing with other tickled-pink faces – snapping photos and gorging themselves with bloody red velvet cake.
    There is no explanation that will make sense to me–and no public apology that will remove the very, very bitter taste left behind.

  • Female circumcision is wrong and from the pit of hades, but so is blackface caricaturization of people of African decent. Both practices need to be done away with. They both are foul and offensive. Always have been. Always will be. The ethnicity of the artist or whether the artist was a male or female does not matter.

    Presenting this type of a cake, whether it was for the purpose of exposing the horrors of female circumcision or not, was poor judgement, a poor decision, and just plain wrong. The end results of this presentation are: 1. a whole culture of people being offended and disrespected, regardless of the intended purpose 2. the artist and the minister are having to clean up a big media mess 3. now people that once supported these public figures question and doubt their character and integrity 4. the issue of bringing an end to female circumcision globally was still not addressed.

  • The methods we use to fight racism can have consequences as widespread and damaging as the stereotypes that preserve racism. No matter how you cut this cake, Linde and Liljeroth deride the women who have suffered and died from female circumcision, and humiliate the peoples of the African diaspora worldwide. Maybe there was a method to her madness, maybe she didn’t realize that “artistically speaking” she became a participant in female circumcision, but from my perspective everything surrounding this event looks plain crazy. Rest in Peace Saartjie Baartman.

  • Mute and mutilated: black women and the cutting of the ‘racist’ cake
    Published: 20 Apr 12 15:09 CET

    The criticism surrounding the ‘racist’ cake controversy has so far failed to adequately explore the impact of the installation on the attitudes and predicament of black women, argue three researchers working in Sweden on issues of gender and race.

    The art performance “Painful Cake” by the Afro-Swedish artist Makode Linde, staged at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, has received a strong reaction from the Afro-Swedish community due to the installation’s racist content.

    The cake consisted of a disproportionate female body with large breasts and vagina coupled with tiny limbs, while the artist himself acted as the head of this monstrous creation, painted as a crude minstrel caricature.

    The Swedish minister of culture was encouraged to cut the cake and she chose to cut at the point of the vagina, which she then fed to the artist to the applauds and laughter of the audience.

    The artist claims this to be an antiracist performance and explains that the cake was supposed to symbolize the mass graves, cutting and female genital mutilation. The organizers of the event and the minister have since argued that art has the right to provoke.

    However, we must ask ourselves what relations of power this “provocation” builds on, if those left with the feeling of exploitation and exposure – and thus also those most offended by the performance – are also those this creation of art claims to liberate: namely black women.

    Our argument is that when exploring any social phenomena impacting black women, one cannot be restricted to a solely racial analysis, or an interpretation strictly based on gender.

    Rather, any analysis of black women must also include an examination of their historical relationship with racial, gender; economic, and sexual oppression.

    The performance in which the minister participated literally re-created a gendered racist stereotype in the shape of a disfigured black female body with huge genitalia and breasts, naked and on display for the white audience.

    Furthermore, the audience was then encouraged to participate in the genital mutilation of this body, while accompanied by shrieks of pain from the artist.

    If the political message intended by the artist was to make the white audience feel uncomfortable when cutting into the cake, thus prompting them to reflect about racist stereotypes, then it’s not at all clear why he had to use an existing racist cultural frame of reference that depicts black women as unsightly, deformed and diseased.

    The consequence is that the only ones engaged in conversation with the artist are the members of the white audience.

    And he does not speak for, or to, the audience of black women through his work of art.

    This abuse of the naked black female body completely disregards black women’s integrity and political interests. The consequence of this is that the intended message of the performance is only meant for the white audience, thus cutting off any possible connection with the untold stories of black women and their existence in oppressive structures of society.

    The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the performance is masked by claims that it is anti-racist; claims which ultimately ring hollow and designed to fail.

    The images like those from the installation simply objectify the mistreated and mutilated black female body and in so doing strip black women of their basic humanity.

    They also tacitly condone the objectification of the black female body by others, thus maintaining black women’s servitude in the eyes of those who view her.

    The roots of some of these objectifying images can be traced back to stories of Sara Baartman, the so-called Hottentott Venus, whose body was exploited and exhibited in freak shows for the delectation of a middle-class white audience in Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth-century.

    Whatever the political critique may have been intended by the performance, the effect seems to be that the audience, laughing uneasily, becomes complicit in supporting acts that continuously victimize black women within structures rooted in systematic racial voyeurism, gender mutilation and cannibalism.

    In this respect the actions committed by the minister of culture, the artist, and the white audience simply feed into a well-established pattern of overt stereotypes that persist about blacks and other people of colour that serve to marginalize certain populations.

    The ‘Painful Cake’ incident is thus yet another sharp reminder of the urgent need for the piecing back together of black women and uniting in the struggle for both gender and racial equality.

    These controlling images, brought once again to the fore by the art installation, are designed to make racism, sexism, poverty, and other forms of social injustice appear to be natural, normal, and inevitable parts of everyday life.

    It is resistance to these controlling images that will eventually change the inevitable, and bring black women further away from oppression.

    Victoria Kawesa, PhD candidate in gender studies, Linköping University
    Viktorija Kalonaityte, Senior Lecturer, Linnaeus University
    Ellen Belmore, Graduate in Gender Studies, Uppsala University

  • Sweden: the country where racism is just a joke

    Jallow Momodou
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 18 April 2012

    Sweden: the country where racism is just a jokeSweden’s culture minister denies claims of racism after feeding a blacked-up artist, but there are too many incidents like this
    Share 2377 Comments (601)
    Jallow Momodou
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 18 April 2012 11.00 BST Article history
    Swedish culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth feeds cake to blacked-up artist Makode Aj Linde at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm
    Most people would consider female genital mutilation (FGM) to be a deeply harrowing issue, and that its victims should be treated with respect and sensitivity. In Sweden, though, it seems it’s a laughing matter, and that racial slurs can be thrown in too.

    Sweden’s culture minister, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth celebrated the country’s World Art Day by visiting an art installation created to highlight the FGM issue. But, shockingly the artist chose to do this by means of a cake depicting a stereotypical black woman connected to the artist’s grotesquely blacked-up face. The exclusively white audience cheered as the minister laughingly cut the cake around the “clitoris”, and fed it to the artist.

    It is difficult to see how women who are victims of FGM, or black people for that matter, can benefit from this contribution to the degradation and humiliation of black women.

    In her attempt to justify her participation in the event, Adelsohn Liljeroth said that art was meant to be provocative, and that the pictures of the event are misunderstood. This reveals her careless attitude towards this racist incident, but it is also a familiar manifestation of Swedish politics and how it views black people.

    Clearly, Adelsohn Liljeroth participated and encouraged a crude racist act in her capacity as a government representative. What makes matters worse is that she subsequently expressed no regret, instead choosing to question the intelligence of all those who criticise her. If a top politician can resign for such things as buying nappies with government credit cards, as happened recently, then it goes without saying that Adelsohn Liljeroth must take responsibility for what happened and resign.

    But more than that, why is it that Stockholm’s Museum of Modern Art, a major state institution, organised a spectacle like this? This can only be understood by looking at the country as a whole. Racism and racist depictions against black people are common in Sweden.

    In March last year a popular celebrity, Alexander Bard, declared on national television station SVT that there is nothing wrong with calling black people “niggers” – “If I can refer to myself as a faggot then I should be able to call black people niggers” – and when confronted on social media by an Afro-Swede, he insisted on using the word repeatedly to make his point.

    Last April, at a student dinner gathering at the prestigious Lund University, students arrived with their faces blacked up, with nooses and shackles around their necks and arms, and led by a white “slave trader”. During the course of the evening, a slave auction was enacted.

    A poster depicting Jallow Momodou as a slave
    When I filed a complaint, I was subjected to a racist reprisal. Apart from threats against me and my family, a manipulated picture of me as a slave in shackles was made into posters bearing the words, in Swedish: “This is our runaway nigger slave and he answers to the name Jallow Momodou. If you should find him please call this number.” These were put up in several different spots around my workplace, Malmö university. Rev Jesse Jackson himself condemned the harassment.

    In October 2010, a white Swedish man went on a rampage in Malmö, shooting more than 20 people of colour and killing one. The killer was officially considered to be a lone wolf with psychological problems rather than a terrorist with racist motives, and he has still not been prosecuted.

    At the start of last year, a sex education film caused outrage because it showed a black guy having sex with a white girl. More than half a million comments were posted on the internet, mainly commenting on how disgusted they were at this “betrayal” of the white race and corruption of the purity of the Swedish gene pool. The entire incident, though, was not even commented on by a single politician.

    Despite all these incidents, however, Sweden has created an image for itself of paradise and harmony, which has been bought into by the rest of the world. It is a challenge for all of us to revise the Swedish self-image, starting in our schools, to understand how racism has taken hold in this country.

    Sweden abolished the slave trade in 1847 well after nations like Britain; but few people know this part of its history.

    The Swedish exceptionalism – the idea that Sweden is different from the rest of Europe, disconnected from slavery and colonialism – has made it very difficult to discuss the racist structures that black people face today.

    Racism is about power, in which those who operate the levers believe it is OK to discriminate, dehumanise and denigrate without consequence. This is what the culture minister is relying on: a racist structure that ignores racial incidents and ultimately makes them part of the norm. This is what the true image of Swedish society looks like.

  • Holy Shit, That Cake Is Racist
    By Nathalie Rothschild

    Race relations are complicated these days, but here’s a tip: If you are eating a cake that looks like it was baked for a KKK banquet, even if you are supposedly eating it in some bizarre effort to draw attention to female genital mutilation in Africa, just stop chewing, put your plate down, and say, “I’m sorry, this is super fucked up.”

    Sweden’s minister of culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, ignored that advice on Sunday when she performed a mock clitoridectomy on a cake that was shaped like the torso of a stereotypical tribal African woman, complete with golden neck rings and sagging breasts, while a minstrel-faced artist poking his head out of a hole screamed in feigned pain.

    The minister decided to feed her piece of the chocolate-covered strawberry cake to the artist, who later said that she whispered “Your life will be better after this” in his ear before taking a piece of the “genitals.” The other guests, laughing and cheering, then lined up to take part in the mutilation, digging into the gruesome-looking cake with a sharp knife.

    The party marked the opening of a World Art Day celebration at Stockholm’s Museum of Modern Art on Sunday and was supposedly meant as a statement against genital mutilation. It was followed by panel discussions about censorship and artistic freedom, which presumably did not include a discussion on the topic of Damn, What the Fuck Was Up with that Racist-Ass Cake We Just Ate?

    The so-called “genital mutilation cake” was in fact a piece of performance art by Afro-Swedish artist Makode Aj Linde, who later posted pictures and a video from the event on Facebook. The images caused a storm in Sweden, with the inevitable hashtag “tårtgate” (“cakegate”) coined on Twitter.

    Swedes have been shocked by the images of the delighted-looking Liljeroth and the photo-snapping crowd—including several young children—surrounding her. This, after all, is a country where a popular sweet, coconut flake-covered chocolate balls, no longer goes by its original name, “negerboll,” meaning “niggerball.” And even if you normally bitch about “political correctness,” it’s hard to defend something so clearly offensive.

    The National Afro-Swedish Association called the cake party a “racist spectacle” and demanded Liljeroth’s resignation. Then the Modern Museum of Art was evacuated following a bomb scare.

    Of course, having been invited to open an event opposing censorship of the arts, it would be understandable if Liljeroth felt she was in a conundrum. But judging from the video it doesn’t seem like she contemplated a more diplomatic approach. Instead, she comes across as clueless and foolish—and might have fallen for an artistic prank.

    Lost in the outrage was the fact that the artist, Makode Aj Linde, makes work that explores stereotyping, attitudes towards black people, and post-colonialism. Getting a bunch of white people to cheer and laugh as a symbolic African gets mutilated probably made his point.

  • supersonicflashback

    How does an African woman having pieces of her “vagina” sliced off and served up to an almost exclusively caucasian audience effectively confront racism? The only people who seem to be deriving pleasure from this are yourself and the people attending the exhibit.

    It goes back to the days when African women were put on display in exhibits for westerners to gawk at, poke, and prod. They were treated as valueless objects, rather than as the sentient human beings that they were. Historical fact.

  • What is female genital mutilation?
    It’s one of the most political areas of women’s health. Worldwide it’s estimated that well over 120 million women have been subjected to it. Supporters of the practice say it’s an important part of cultural and religious life, and some compare it to the practice of male circumcision that is more widely accepted in the Western world, but opponents say that not only is it potentially life-threatening – it’s also an extreme form of oppression of women.

    In some countries where it’s more widely practised it’s officially illegal – those who persist in the practice in Senegal will now face a prison term of between one and five years, for example. But it’s still carried out quietly, within the family and out of sight of officials.

    Female circumcision is mainly carried out in western and southern Asia, the Middle East and large areas of Africa. It’s also known to take place among immigrant communities in the USA, Canada, France, Australia and Britain, where it’s illegal. In total it’s estimated that as many as two million girls a year are subjected to genital mutilation.

    There are three main types of circumcision:

    •The removal of the tip of the clitoris
    •Total removal of the clitoris and surrounding labia
    •The removal of the clitoris and labia and the sewing up of the vagina, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood – a process known as infibulation
    So drastic is the mutilation involved in the latter operation that young brides have to be cut open to allow penetration on their wedding night and are customarily sewn up afterwards.

    Why is female genital mutilation carried out?
    Female genital mutilation conforms to several cultural beliefs.

    The aim of the process is to ensure the woman is faithful to her future husband. Some communities consider girls ineligible for marriage if they have not been circumcised.

    Girls as young as three undergo the process, but the age at which the operation is performed varies according to country and culture.

    Girls who have not been circumcised may be considered ‘unclean’ in many cultures, and can be treated as harlots by other women. Many men believe the folklore which says they will die if their penis touches a clitoris.

    What are the risks of female genital mutilation?
    Health workers say that the operation is often carried out in unsanitary and so potentially dangerous conditions . Razor blades, scissors, kitchen knives and even pieces of glass are used, often on more than one girl, which increases the risk of infection. Anaesthesia is rarely used. Some girls die as a result of haemorrhaging, septicaemia and shock. Infections and scarring can also lead to long-term urinary and reproductive problems.

    What is the future?
    Due to health campaigns, female circumcision has been falling in some countries in the last decade. Several international organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations are actively working to stop the practice, and an increasing number of countries have outlawed it.

    In Kenya, a 1991 survey found that 78 per cent of teenagers had been circumcised, compared to 100 per cent of women over 50. In Sudan, the practice dropped by 10 per cent between 1981 and 1990.

    Several governments have introduced legislation to ensure the process is only carried out in hospitals by trained doctors.

    Other countries such as Egypt have banned the operation altogether, but there is significant opposition to change because of the traditional nature of the process. Health workers think a less confrontational approach such as Ntanira Na Mugambo, which combines education with an understanding of the thinking behind female genital mutilation, could be more successful.

    Ntanira Na Mugambo, also known as ‘circumcision by words’, has been developed in rural areas of Kenya by local and international women’s health organisations.

    It involves a week-long programme of community education about the negative effects of female genital mutilation, culminating in a coming of age ceremony for young women.

    The young women are secluded for a week and undergo classes in:

    •Reproduction
    •Anatomy
    •Hygiene
    •Respect for adults
    •Developing self-esteem
    •Dealing with peer pressure
    Family members also undergo health education sessions and men in the community are taught about the negative effects of female circumcision.

    Health workers believe the programme works because it does not exert a blunt prohibition on female genital mutilation, but offers an attractive alternative.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/female_genital_mutilation.shtml

  • confused mulatto
  • “Mixed race people are some of the most confused and psychologically disturbed people I’ve ever met. Ever notice how they almost fanatically want everyone else to be mixed race? I get the sense that they have a genetic drive to try to increase their pool of immediate co-ethnics.”

    “A new study that involved surveying 90,000 adolescent U.S. students showed that those who considered themselves to be of mixed race were more likely than others to suffer from depression, substance abuse, sleep problems and various aches and pains. Conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National Institutes of Health, the investigation found that adolescents of mixed race were more likely to have other health problems as well.”

  • The power of images – African women and Swedish politicians
    18 April 2012
    Ms. Afropolitan Blog

    I don’t tend to get surprised about racist acts, at least not when it’s so stereotypical as this whole tragic ordeal with the Swedish culture minister eating a cake of what is supposed to be a mutilated African woman. As a mixed race person I’ve experienced racism from the places where it possibly chafes the most; from family members, and from both sides, so I am rarely bewildered by people’s prejudices.

    But although I may not get surprised, I get angry. Always. Very. And in this case, I don’t care how politically motivated the designer of the cake, Makode Linde, claims his work was, there is no excuse for him to refer to that horrendous thing as ‘art’. As stated in a previous post discussing art, if creativity isn’t about community in one-way or another it is dull at worst and provoking at best. Makonde Linde’s is both.

    I moved from Sweden after living there for about a decade, and events like this make it tempting to start listing all the bad things and reasons why I left. I won’t just now. But I will say that the hidden racism in that country, like in many others, is epidemic and the sooner we start talking about this uncomfortable truth the better. How could not a single one of those people in that room object to eating African mutilated vagina cake!!??

    Most of our societies have shifted from oral to text and now to image-centred communication. THE POWER OF IMAGES CREATE THE MYTHS OF OUR TIMES.
    The images that categorize people whether by gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and so on have a profound effect on our worldviews. And yet most of the images we see of black women are either exotically sexualized creatures like Josephine Baker or Nicki Minaj or unshapely mother hens, like the Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix stereotype, or the maid in The Help. In 2012 one would’ve hoped at the very least not to be seeing the worst of them all, the Sarah Baartman caricature.

    Minna Salami

  • Undies for Africa

    The mission

    We’re looking for Grumpy Bras! Do you have one at the back of your underwear drawer? You know the one. It’s the one that creates all your grumpy bra days; the one that makes you change into something more comfortable the second you get home, or the one that was really cute and on sale for such a great price you just had to bring it home. It didn’t really fit right, but you thought it would be fine and lovability would overcome the fact that it pokes you every time you put it on – Those are the ones we’re looking for! We want to send them to women in Zambia.

    Learn more

    In many parts of Africa women go without bras and panties because they simply can’t afford them. This was reason enough for us to want to be involved. However, this is not the only reason we want to send the women in Zambia underwear. In many parts of Africa, simply wearing underwear can reduce the instances rape and helps stop the spread of infectious diseases. Underwear is not considered a necessity, so by having underwear it raises the women’s social status making her less likely to be raped.

    Get involved

    You can get involved by bring us your grumpy bras and helping us spread the word. What better reason to clean out your underwear drawer? Gently used bras and new underwear can be dropped off at Nectar Lingerie during regular stores hour. As a thank you for your support in our cause, Nectar will be offer 10% off items purchased during a fitting on the day of your donation.

  • An Open Letter from African women to the Minister of Culture: The Venus Hottentot Cake

    I was only able to watch 15 seconds of the video because the screaming went through me, the insensitivity annoyed me and the face of the cake confused me, as it was a negative caricature of how we were viewed in the past. The objective was to raise awareness of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), so how could the artist make a cake that people cut into re-enacting what happens on a day to day basis for many women? Could the artist predict how the cake cutters would react? No. Did he expect the minister and others to have an experiential metaphorical experience that made them think of those who had experienced such atrocities? Who knows. Either way the intention was lost and the outcome is one of disgust and uproar which has led to a petition calling for the Swedish minster’s resignation.

    Watch the video and ask yourself some questions. i.e
    How did the footage make you feel?
    Had you heard of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) before?
    Does the cake bring greater awareness to FGM or does it make a mockery of the victims who have encountered this atrocious tradition?
    Should “Art” have boundaries?
    Is the cake, racist?insensitive? or both?
    Should the minister resign?

    April 21 2012

    We the undersigned women of African /African descent and our supporters, which include anti-racist activists, scholars community leaders and Faith leaders wish to address the Swedish Venus Hottentot Cake Incident. First, we commend our Swedish friends and colleagues, and those from the African-Swedish Diaspora for their substantial contribution to anti-racist mobilization and education through their various Policy Institutes and Research Programs, which have worked diligently to promote the interests of African Diaspora communities in Europe and Internationally.

    The Issue At Hand

    “Contemporary forms of oppression do not routinely force people to submit. Instead, they manufacture consent for domination so that we lose our ability to question and thus collude in our own subordination.”

    -Patricia Hill-Collins, Black Feminist Scholar.

    On Sunday, April 15th, at the Moderna Museet the Swedish Artists Organisation celebrated World Art Day, as well as celebrating its own 75th birthday. Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth, the culture Minister, was Invited to speak and a number of artists were invited to create birthday cakes for the celebration. The Minister was informed that the cake would be about the limits of provocative art, and about female genital mutilation. The event was launched with Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth cutting the first piece of cake from a dark, ruby red velvet filling with black icing, which we understand was created by the Afro-Swedish artist Makode Aj Linde, whose head forms that of the black woman, and is seen with a blackened face screaming with pain each time a guest cuts a slice from the cake. Rather disturbingly for many African women, the minister is pictured laughing as she cuts off the genital area (clitoris)from the metaphorical cake, as the artist Makode screams distastefully. The gaze of the predominantly white Swedish crowd is on Lijeroth who is positioned at the crotch end, as they look on at their visibly ebullient culture minister with seemingly nervous laughter as she becomes a part of the performance – a re-enactment of FGM on a cake made in the image of a disembodied African woman.

    The pictures of the event that followed in the media and video footage can only be described in the mildest of terms, as a very negative racialised spectacle, that has infuriated many people. As representatives of African women on the ground, we have the experiential privilege to convey to the Swedish Embassy’s Ministry of Culture the fury that we have seen, particularly from African women who are dismayed at the fact that this project which was supposed to bring awareness of the very painful and complex issue of genital cutting has ironically, had the complete opposite effect.The fact that the artist is black does not in any way diminish the gravity of this racially demeaning project. The black artist who created this may be accused of being a dim witted misogynist on the one hand or on the other, some sort of gnostic proponent of postmodern praxis, in relation to black identity and difference – that we just don’t get – but we do not believe, based on what we have seen and heard from the artists own explanations, that this so-called ‘provocative performance art’ stands up to the intellectual rigor required of literary and cultural critique.

    The work is definitely not empowering or transformative for women who are victims of FGM in any shape or form, and the racial overtones of this project re-inscribe the exploitation and dehumanisation of black African women, which clearly cannot be denied. The fact of Makode Linde’s blackness does not legitimize anything done here, and the message about the seriousness of FGM is completely subsumed by the hideous medium through which it has been conveyed. One does not need to be subjected to the epistemic violence underpinning the grotesque reconstruction of FGM, in the form of a black woman having her clitoris cut off to the sound of a laughing crowd with a fixed gaze, drinks in hand, to raise awareness of this very serious issue. Perhaps some reflection is required on what this might be saying about the people who were participating, and who saw nothing wrong in what will surely go down as a deeply disturbing episode and blight in Sweden’s history.

    As the representatives of African women it is with grave concern that we express our extreme and utter dismay that the minister for culture, Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth – someone who holds a position of great authority and power – would take part in what basically amounted to a humiliating and dehumanising racialised public spectacle of African women. We believe the naive re-enactment of this oppression and symbolic violence in the name of “raising awareness” shows a profound disconnection between the minister for culture and the women who have to deal with FGM. Unfortunately, this serves to reinforce the huge chasm that exists between the cultural sensibilities of African women and western women [albeit not always exclusively between these two categories, when the dynamics of difference is taken into further consideration]. We do not in any shape or form subscribe to this sham, that is so widely described to as “women’s empowerment.” In this sense we the undersigned believe that this project is no different from the” Hottentot Venus” Sara Baartman and other African women who were exhibited as freak show attractions in Europe in the 19th Century.Sara Baartman was tricked into going to Europe, where she and other African women were paraded naked in museums and public squares and gawked at by all and sundry, for their “huge buttocks and peculiar genitalia”. The objectification of African women’s bodies by the west is rife in the pornography industry and there at least one can argue that the women who participate do so willingly. However, when this happens in the context of a serious issue such as FGM and it is done in the name of “art”, we believe that there is a need for a strong unequivocal response to challenge such derogatory and racist representations promulgated by so-called “provocative art”.

    As such /We/African Women/African-Americans and many women of the African Diaspora the world over view this as an assault on our foremothers, sisters and our selves who have worked tirelesslly in different historical and cultural contexts to rid society of the sexist/racist vernacular and stereotypes of black women as sluts, jezebel, hottentot, mammy, mule, sapphire; to build our own sense of selves and redefine what women who look like us represent.

    In this sense we completely reject the grotesque caricature of the black African woman constructed by the artist Mokode Linde to re-enact FGM, which displayed no discernible cultural sensitivity towards those African girls/women and girls/women generally who are subjected to that experience. We in no way except this as a valid representation of the experiences of African women, but rather, we view it as a racialised slur and an attempt at erasure of all that we have struggled for historically in order to genuinely empower African women the world over. We can learn from successful movements like the Civil Rights movement, from Women’s Suffrage, the Black Nationalist and Black Feminist movements that we can make change without resorting to the sort of connivance outlined here between white female power and the black male power that legitimized this gross act of cultural insensitivity and public humiliation towards African women in the form of what is now infamously known as the Venus Hottentot Cake.

    The Artist and Ethics

    Internalized racism has been one of the primary means by which we are constantly forced to perpetuate and collude in our own oppression and the oppression of others of our race. In the case of the “Venus Hottentot Cake”, equally devastating is that the artist Makode Aj Linde is Afro-Swedish. His own head adorned with long locks forms that of the naked Black woman in the cake, lying motionless on a table in a room surrounded by a laughing crowd. Not one Black woman, not one Black person in the room, except the artist and his cake. Makode Aj Linde is seen with a blackened face screaming with pain each time a Swedish guest cuts a slice from the cake. We are horrified as we try to make sense of this artist’s actions and we are perplexed by his explanation of the art as an awareness raising piece on the “practice of female genital mutilation” in certain African communities, or a practice that many African women’s rights defenders have come to rename female genital cutting (FGC).

    The moment that cake was presented; the moment that cake was eaten; the moment that cake caused joy and excitement, re-opening the marvel that white Europeans felt at exploiting African women’s bodies—specifically, the sexualized celebration, the entrapment, the cutting of the genitalia of the Sara Baartman-like black body, the ethics of the artist comes into serious question, even if not the art itself, for the sake of “art”, for the sake of non-censorship. Racism was propped up in its ugliest form, facilitated by a Black artist and perpetuated on the representation of the body of a Black female.

    No one, including the artist seems to have consulted Black African women at the forefront of the movement to end the practice of female genital cutting, often with little resources and in direct and dangerous conflict with their own communities. We echo Shailja Patel in stating: “What makes the cake episode so deeply offensive is the appropriation, by both artist and his audience, of African women’s bodies and experiences, while completely excluding real African women from the discourse. It is a pornography of violence.”

    We disagree with the artist, that the various statements, comments, letters, and responses flooding the blogosphere represent “a shallow analysis of the work”, of his art. As he expresses that it is “sad if people feel offended”, we too are saddened by his lack of analysis and his acquiesce to racist and misogynist systems that not only serve to undermine the humanity of Black women, but also of Black men.

    Ethics are defined as “a system of moral principles” which constantly factor into the choices we make, whether as artists or responsible governmental and/or institutional representatives. However, these decisions can become confused, making this system of principles seriously muddled and producing a blurry set of ethical guidelines, especially when competing priorities are at work—money and recognition vs. dignity and humanity. It is our personal opinion that this cake represents both ethical and moral violations not only in its presentation within the context of art, but within the department of cultural affairs sponsorship of it, regardless of country.

    To the artist, by colluding in this or any level of oppression, and by providing the tool for the racialized, sexualized enjoyment of the visual body of a Black woman, by participating in the enticement of others to cut out and eat her cake vagina, which in the case of Sarah Baartman was first felt up, groped at, raped, looked at as a sexual enigma—is indeed an outrage.

    Controversies and arguments abound as ethical decisions, or the lack thereof, play a role in institutional practice, in governmental practice—then you add the artist, as in this case, and you have a dangerous situation and a perpetuation on a global scale, another assault on Black women’s bodies. With the advent of technology today, our world is global. Technology allows us to see beyond our backyards. The world is watching as we still see layers of the objectification of black and indigenous peoples throughout the world, where institutions of cultural education reach their market by presenting dangerous ideologies of culture that objectify and exploit and dehumanize ethnic groups, such as Dr Kananazawa for his “Black Women Are Less Attractive” research. We are also fortunate, in the sense that we can use this same technology to respond and resist.

    The fact that anthropologists, scientist, and other social scientist, educators and now this artist and the Swedish institution is being challenged around the world in outrage signals that, even through art, people want to be educated without harm, without violation, and without limitation.

    What We Ask

    We would welcome a meeting with the minister of culture, Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth to discuss the implications of the event in its global reach for African women and the moral outrage it has caused. We would welcome the opportunity to engage in critical conversation with the artist Mokode Linde about the strategies he intends to employ for remaining accountable to black African communities in Sweden and further afield, he has indicated he will continue to represent in his art. We would welcome a conversation about the work ahead in relation to reconciliation for those who have been affected and/or offended by the insensitive nature of the Venus Hottentot Cake event, particularly those who have experience of FGM. Finally, we the undersigned would welcome a sincere public apology that would demonstrate the issues we have outlined in this letter have undergone serious consideration by the minister of culture, followed up by a robust review and implementation of anti-racist policies that impact the lives of African Swedes and those from African Diaspora communities in Europe and Internationally.

    It behooves each artist, or researcher, or activist, or educator, to be aware of their position and their privilege and power when communicating or producing what can then interpreted as some form of “reality” by those the product reaches. Conversely, it is the ethical job of the institution, in this case the department of cultural affairs in Sweden to use their monies to fund programming that educates without racism and exploitation. In addition, we believe it is also imperative that they work to redact and develop programs of reeducation to counter information promulgated throughout years and centuries, via exhibitions, world fairs, zoos, parks, and more, that have framed Black women continuously, as “lesser,” “inhumane,” “sexual creatures.”When the department of cultural affairs ate and laughed at the caricature body of Sara Baartman, the head of the department showed herself incompetent and incapable of morally and ethically making choices and incapable of running the department of cultural affairs in Sweden.

    SIGNED

    Dr Claudette Carr Director, Jethro Institute for Good Governance, BlackWomens Blueprint, Barbara Mhangami, Samantha Asumadu, Minna Salami

  • Sign this Petition: Minister of Culture, Sweden: Apologise for the display of offensive artwork of Black Women

    http://www.change.org/petitions/minister-of-culture-sweden-apologise-for-the-display-of-offensive-artwork-of-black-women

    Why This Is Important
    To stop the abusive racially charged characterizations of black women, To empower black women as they defend themselves against racist and stereotypical imagery, to improve race relations in the African diaspora as well as on the continent, to raise cultural competence and sensitivity to issues pertaining to Africa and African cultures, to enhance understanding and views of African people as human beings with dignity and pride.

  • Well, I guess if the artist’s point was to be provocative, he’s succeeded and should pat himself on the back for the global outrage. However, as a graduate student in Anthropology and woman from sub-Sahara Africa, I’m thinking this was a poor choice for anyone, especially a black artist. First, it disrespects all we have tried to do over the years to abate racial stereotypes. Second, “female genital mutilation” is a western construct which imposes western morality onto another’s culture without considering cultural relativism. I don’t agree with the practice of “genital cutting” especially on children, but some women do choose to have it done, and it’s not always the extreme forms of cutting you hear about. Let’s not forget that some women also choose to wear a Burqa & hijab. To me this cake depicts those who may actually choose to undergo the procedure as savage, backwards and ignorant. I tire of this western need to always “fix” what THEY see is wrong with other cultural practices without bothering to first fully research & ask those actually affected what THEY want! For many Muslim women in France the Burqa ban has left them unable to leave home because they now feel naked and oppressed, not “liberated”. Well done France.

  • The missing ingredient in Sweden’s racist-misogynist cake
    Shailja Patel
    2012-04-19, Issue 581

    TOP LAYER

    The scene is Stockholm’s Museum of Modern Art, on Sunday, April 15th. The event is the celebration of World Art Day, and the 75th birthday of the Swedish Artists Organisation. Five artists have been asked to create birthday cakes for the occasion.

    This is what the world will see, in photos and on video, the next morning.

    On the table, a huge cake, with a smooth shiny black surface, in the form of a caricatured African female body, sans legs. Naked, splayed on its back, it is composed of crotch, belly mound, large pendulous breasts held by truncated stick arms, a row of neck rings. Where the neck rings end, a living human head rears up through a hole in the table. The head belongs to the kneeling body of a man. It is tricked out in exaggerated blackface –large white circles around the eyes, drawn-on cartoon red mouth and pointed teeth.

    Sweden’s female Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth, approaches the cake with a knife in her hand. She performs a simulated clitoridectomy, cutting the first slice from the crotch, to reveal a moist spongy red interior. The head of the body moans and shrieks with pain. A roomful of white Swedes, men and women, laugh and applaud. Cameras flash. In the photographs, faces appear alive, avidly entertained, as the minister feeds the slice she has cut to the grinning head. More people cut and eat slices of the cake body, dismembering it. The head moans, yells, screams with each knife-stroke.

    There are no people of colour in the room. There are no black women in the room.

    The images go viral. The African Swedish National Association demands the Minister’s resignation, as do hundreds of viewers across the world. Hundreds more register outrage and disgust on social media. It is unacceptable that the body of an African woman can be represented this way, as an object for violation and consumption. It is unacceptable that a government minister of Sweden can publicly enact the violation and consumption of that body, and laugh as she does it.

    SECOND LAYER

    The artist who created this cake-installation, Makode Linde, is a biracial Swedish man, of mixed black and white heritage. He refers to himself as an Afro-Swede. It was he who knelt under the table, playing the head of the cake-woman.

    “Within my art I try to raise a discussion and awareness about black identity and the diversity of it,” Linde says on Al-Jazeera. “The [recent] discussions [about my cake piece] have been mostly if I or the culture minister are racist or not. I think it is a shallow analysis of the work. It’s easy to take any image and put it in the wrong context.”

    His intention, he says, was to prompt action against the female genital mutilation (FGM) practiced by certain African communities. The performance “went off the exact way I wanted it.”

    “It’s sad if people feel offended, but considering the low number of artists in Sweden who identify as Afro-Swedish I find it sad that the Afro-Swedish Association haven’t followed my artistry and do not understand what my work is about.”

    And he continues:

    “If people can get this upset from a woman cutting a cake, can’t they use that energy towards the real battle against female genital mutilation?”

    He displays no ambivalence about his appropriation of the body and experience of an African woman. There is no suggestion that he has ever spoken to women from communities which practice FGM, the ones his installation is supposedly intended to benefit, or that he has invited their feedback on this piece.

    THIRD LAYER

    The plot thickens.

    Swedish arts blogger Johan Palme frames the incident as a ‘very efficient mousetrap’ for the Minister of Culture.

    Apparently, Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth, the culture minister, “is reviled by large parts of the art world for her culture-sceptic stance and for previously condemning provocative art in what many see as a kind of censorship.”

    Therefore, she arrived at the event acutely conscious of the need to repair her tattered image and dissolve the perception that she is a threat to freedom of expression in Sweden. Handed a knife, and asked to cut into the crotch of the cake-woman, she knew that if she balked or questioned, she risked being pilloried as an enemy of provocative art.

    “ Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth tries to play along as best she can in what she sees as a “bizarre” situation, reciprocating the laughter.” writes Palme. “And on the other side of the cake, placed in the narrow space in front of a glass wall, stands one of the minister’s fiercest critics, visual artist and provocateur Marianne Lindberg De Geer, camera at the ready. And she snaps pictures of the whole series of events, as the minister is egged into doing more outrageous things, performing for the crowd.”

    Palme also reveals that artist Makode Linde’s has another life: “he’s a club promoter and DJ, one of Sweden’s most successful, who knows exactly how to manipulate crowds and their emotions.”

    Following the global outcry the Minister releases a statement:

    Our national cultural policy assumes that culture shall be an independent force based on the freedom of expression. Art must therefore be allowed room to provoke and pose uncomfortable questions. As I emphasised in my speech on Sunday, it is therefore imperative that we defend freedom of expression and freedom of art —even when it causes offence.

    I am the first to agree that Makode Linde’s piece is highly provocative since it deliberately reflects a racist stereotype. But the actual intent of the piece — and Makode Linde’s artistry — is to challenge the traditional image of racism, abuse and oppression through provocation. While the symbolism in the piece is despicable, it is unfortunate and highly regrettable that the presentation has been interpreted as an expression of racism by some. The artistic intent was the exact opposite.

    It is perfectly obvious that my role as minister differs from that of the artist. Provocation can not and should not be an expression for those who have the trust and responsibility of Government representative. I therefore feel it is my responsibility to clarify that I am sincerely sorry if anyone has misinterpreted my participation and I welcome talks with the African Swedish National Association on how we can counter intolerance, racism and discrimination.

    Still missing: the voice of any black woman. I wonder why Nyamko Sabuni, Sweden’s dynamic Minister for Integration and Gender Equality, and the only black woman in Sweden’s cabinet, has not been asked to comment. In 2006, Sabuni created a storm of controversy when she called for mandatory gynecological examinations of all schoolgirls in Sweden in order to prevent genital mutilation. If she had been the speaker at this event, would she have been asked to cut the cake? Could her absence from the debate be because the inconvenient fact of a live articulate powerful black Swedish woman, who actually makes policy on FGM, shows up Linde’s shock art for the puerile nonsense it is?

    THE BASE LAYER

    Nothing about me, without me has been the rallying cry of numerous movements for justice and representation at the tables of power.

    It’s tragic that in 2012, this basic tenet of any political art or advocacy is continually ignored by the entitled. And never more so than when it comes to African women and girls, the world’s favourite target for rescue, the population everyone loves to speak for and speak about, but rarely cares to listen to. What makes this cake episode so deeply offensive is the appropriation, by both Linde and his audience, of African women’s bodies and experiences, while completely excluding real African women from the discourse. It is a pornography of violence.

    Jiwon Chung, leading theorist of Boal’s Theater Of The Oppressed, offers a useful set of questions to apply to any art that claims to address the suffering of a particular group or class of human beings. Let’s apply them to Linde’s cake installation, and the argument of his supporters that it somehow serves women and girls from communities that practice FGM.

    1) Cui bono? Who benefits?

    Linde has achieved overnight global fame from this exercise – the kind of exposure and media spotlight artists dream of. Sweden’s Culture Minister, Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth has established herself as a champion of provocative art. It’s not clear how any woman who has had FGM, or any girl at risk of FGM, is materially better off.

    2) How do those whose suffering / body / experience is depicted feel? Do they feel they’ve been done justice?

    A brief survey of comments on media sites and facebook postings about this event suggest that the overwhelming majority of African women feel ‘outraged’, ‘violated’, ‘furious’, ‘sick’.

    3) Are you speaking for them (because you have a voice, and they don’t), or are they speaking for you, because what they have to say is so much more compelling than you?

    The only one vocalizing anything in Linde’s art is – Makonde Linde. His caricature of an African woman doesn’t even vocalize words, just sounds of pain.

    The next five questions, only Linde can answer.

    4) Are you attributing clearly (giving clear credit?)

    5) Are you dialectical?

    6) Is your I a we? Is your we an I?

    7) If their suffering were to disappear, would you be truly happy? Or would you have to look for something else onto which to glom your dissatisfaction?

    8) Do you belong, do you truly claim solidarity with the suffering — or do you do it only when it fits in with your concerns and schedule? How do you support them outside your art?

    Here’s an idea for truly provocative art. No more male artists, black or white, speaking for African women. No more ever-more-graphic ever-more-voyeuristic art on the suffering of African women. Stop using the female African body as raw material to be worked – unless you happen to live in one. Then, notice that African women are making their own work about their lives and struggles. Look. Listen. Learn.

    * BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

    * Kenyan artist and activist Shailja Patel is the author of Migritude (Kaya Press, 2010), and a founding member of Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice. She has just been selected to represent Kenya at the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in London.
    * Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

    http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/81491

  • Man accuses wife of sleeping with his father

    For 36 year-old Mrs Mercy Nnamdi, the woman whose one-year-old son was allegedly killed by her husband recently in Ago, Okota area of Lagos, over her husband’s allegation that she was sleeping with his father, life could never have been more cruel.This is because never in her wildest imagination had she envisaged that a man she had known almost all her life could mete such inhuman treatment on her. As you read this piece, Mercy is going through excruciating pains in a private hospital in Okota where doctors are battling to save her life.In fact, the once bubbling woman looks a shadow of herself, as medical report showed that she sustained a third degree burns from the hot iron her husband of two years used on her on Saturday, April 7 2012, which was exclusively reportedPresently, the badly burnt woman maintains a particular position, by sleeping on her back. She wears an adult pampers when she eases herself, with a tissue paper by her side, with which she cleans the fluid coming out from the burns. Help, as gathered, was far from the Imo state-born woman, as none of her neighbours attempted to go and find out what was happening when she was desperately shouting for help. It was learnt that their neighbours failed to respond to her cries for help because it has become a daily occurrence.

    Crime Guard gathered also that on several occasions, some of the neighbours invited policemen from Ago division who cautioned her husband after which he was made to sign an undertaking never to raise his hands on his wife.Family sources hinted that signs of danger in the marriage reared its ugly face early after the two love birds fell in love 16 years ago, when Mary was barely 22 years old. But she was apparently blinded by love, hoping that her heartthrob would outgrow his anger someday, which was never to be.Narrating what led to her being a patient in the hospital, Mary stated, “It all happened on a Saturday. I had prepared boiled yam, awaiting the arrival of my husband. After a long wait, I decided to eat mine and left his on the table. He came back few minutes to 11pm and went straight to bed.

    Then at about 1 a.m., power was restored and he went to put off the power generating set and switched over to electricity.After that, he started ironing his customers’ clothes because he is a dry cleaner.I was later woken up by the cry of our one-year-old baby who apparently needed breast milk. All the while, we were outside before power was restored. Before retiring inside, I took my bath and fetched water for him to have his. The unforgettable nightI was fast asleep when I was woken up by a sharp pain on my back. I thought it was a night mare. But when I opened my eyes, lo and behold, my husband was planting the hot iron he was using on the clothes on me. Immediately I turned, he planted it on my chest. When I raised my hand to prevent it, he planted it on one of my hands .By then I did not know what to do. I started screaming and calling on my neighbours for help. I raised my leg to prevent him, again, he landed the hot iron on me.As he planted the hot iron hard on my flesh, he would use a screw driver to peel off the flesh. At a point, I became too weak to shout. I begged him to stop but he would not. Rather, he would ask me to tell him how many times his father slept with me. Even in pains, I begged him to listen to himself and imagine what he was saying.

    My response seemed to anger him the more because he would plant it harder, leaving it on my skin and at the same time, asked me to tell him the truth.”At this point, Crime Guard asked if she was guilty of the claim. She grimaced and replied, “How can that be? The father already has a wife.” Pausing for a while and staring at the ceiling , a position she has been maintaining for several hours, she continued, “ at that point, my baby woke up and started crying . I begged him to allow me breast feed the baby .But before I could finish the statement, he placed the hot iron on my breasts, threatening to kill me if I shout. As he lifted the iron, I saw that the flesh from my breast had stuck to the iron surface. Again he pressed it harder on my stomach, leaving it there. I managed to turn, only for the iron to land on my lap.He told me there was no way of escape for me that night, that members of his gang were outside to take my corpse to an unknown destination by the time he finished with me. At that point, I knew the end had come for me. I managed to shout out for help with all the strength in me but I could not.At that point, he forcefully took Ebuka from the bed and went outside. I decided to go out because I did not know what he would do next when he came back. I cannot tell how I crawled out of the room. But I found myself in the kitchen naked, from where two men who saw me gave me wrapper to cover myself.“As I was there, trying to fathom how I would escape from the compound, somebody shouted that my husband had killed my child. That was the last thing I heard.

    I guessed I passed out because I later opened my eyes and found myself in the hospital.”Residents of Number 3, Lambe street, Ago confirmed to Crime Guard that they simply refused to go to Mary’s rescue that night because it was late and also that her shout for help had been one too many .One of them said, “ Since they started living as husband and wife, there had never been a time we did not experience shout or crisis from their one-room apartment. It is worse any time the man came home drunk. We have even gone to report to the police when it became too much because we did not want a situation where he would kill her one day and we would be held responsible. Even at that, he did not stop.“Several times, the woman had wanted to go back to her family but she wouldn’t. Even her father-in-law had advised her to leave when she travelled home last December because he was tired of the endless reports of his son battering his daughter in-law.”Weeping, after pausing for a while, Mary recalled how he met her 37-year-old husband. “ We knew each other since 1996. The relationship blossomed until 2010, when he went for introduction in my village. I left my hair dressing skill and moved in with him with the hope of continuing later.”

    But that was never to be as she revealed that rather than continuing learning hair dressing, she started selling pap, all in a bid to make ends meet and apparently as a demonstration of her love for Henry.“He started showing his real colour later. He started by refusing to drop money for house keep and even when I begged him to rent a shop for me, he didn’t. Rather, he used the money to drink beer and smoke . When I advised him against his drinking and smoking habit, he would flare up and the next thing would be to hit me. Several times I have begged the police to help me beg him not to raise his hands on me but he wouldn’t” Another predicament befalls MarySadly, the anguished woman is faced with another predicament which is her inability to pay her medical bills. Already, Crime Guard gathered that her bill had amounted to N200,000 . Following this development, the hospital is threatening to stop treatment. Presently, the dressing of the burns which ought to be done on daily basis has been extended to once in two or three days, as a daily dressing cost s N10,000.Sobbing uncontrollably and at the same time questioning her choice of partner, she revealed that her family members had not shown up since the incident occurred, as none of them, according to her, was aware of the incident.“My mother must not hear of this because it will kill her.

    She is presently taking care of my sister who just put to bed in Owerri. I can not reach my relatives either because my phone is not with me and I do not have their phone numbers off hand.”Crime Guard learnt that since the incident took place, her father in-law had been responsible for the hospital bills. But there is little Pa Nnamdi could do as the bill, as gathered, had gone beyond his capacity. Hospital sources disclosed that though their management had tried to attend to Mary’s case, there are indications that it might discharge her if the accrued bill is not cleared.One of the doctors who identified himself simply as Eze explained that “she had a third degree burn and her case may deteriorate if she does not receive adequate care.

    She even fainted last Tuesday because she was not given food and her people lacked the fund to bring her back to normal state.”He further disclosed that Mary was rushed to the hospital in a state of coma, adding that , “ The husband used pliers on her skin and decimated her. Then a hot iron was applied on her face, body chest, and her two breasts. Meanwhile, she has not been informed of the demise of her one-year-old son considering her present state.”However, the alleged perpetrator of this dastardly act, Mr Henry Nnamdi who was arrested by neighbours, is currently at the State Criminal Investigation Department , Panti, Yaba. Efforts to speak with him proved abortive.

    Vanguard NGR

  • You are spot on Joyce. I do not see how Makode Linde’s degrading artwork conveyed the message of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/FGC) across a group of whites, who were obviously enjoying themselves as they sliced off the torso of that ghastly shaped cake. Makode wanted personal achievement, which he definitely got. If his purpose was to raise awareness on FGM/C, then he should have displayed a set of data depicting countries and communities which practice it. Oh, I almost forgot; he belongs to the archaic, racial minstrel era: no wonder the cake cutting act was accompanied by laughter, despite his moans about this grave issue. It was just a big joke to them.

    Makode should have gone local by presenting the prevalence of FGM/C among some Swedish immigrants. That, accompanied by his moaning, might have touched his audience. However, he chose to deride the shape of an African woman by exaggerating its looks to remind viewers of Saartjie Baartman, the Khoisan woman who was paraded nude in England and France, with men and women poking her exposed genitalia. Makode and his supporters claim there was nothing racist in his display. However, I must give credit to many women on social media who have protested against the artwork and termed it a setback in the advancement of women’s rights, especially in the area of imagery exploitation. Sometimes one needs to belong to a situation or race, to understand certain things.

    The discourse on FGM/C is not new and a lot has been done beyond literature and conferences. For instance, there are countries which have forbidden it by law such as:

    Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt (Ministerial decree), Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria (multiple states), Senegal, Tanzania, Togo. In Sudan only the most severe form of FGM/FGC is forbidden by law.

    Others: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States (federal law, and specific state laws).

    Despite the ban, various myths and old cultural traditions still make it difficult to eradicate FGM/C, even among immigrant communities in developed countries. For instance, it was reported yesterday in the British Sunday Times newspaper that up to 100,000 women have undergone FGM/C procedures in the UK, the youngest being only 10 years old. Research suggests that 22,000 girls in the UK and 6,000 in London risk undergoing the procedures annually.

    The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) who are “co-sponsors of the Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, aim to see communities everywhere abandon the practice in a generation. Key to their success is using a human rights-based approach to encourage communities to act collectively to abandon the practice, so that girls or their families who opt out do not jeopardize marriage prospects or become social outcasts. This approach has led some 6,000 communities across Africa to abandon the practice, usually through some form of public declaration.”

    Makode needs to read the above and more to understand how far the fight against FGM/C has come at the grassroots level and not in a Swedish museum, full of whites without a single woman from the affected regions. In as much as he is attempting to convince the world not to interpret his art beyond what it is: ‘an anti-racist piece’, one wonders why he had to blacken his face during the exhibition and not just maintain his bi-racial color.

    Educating the masses against FGM/C should continue in a systematic way, with the support of national and international stakeholders. A one-off ‘sadistic thrill’ derived from ‘dismembering’ a cake cannot do it. I hope Makode’s “life will be better after this” according to culture minister Lena Adolfsson Liljeroth, who laughed as she sliced and munched his/her ‘vagaga’.

    Venus 2010: A poem for Sara Baartman by Diana Ferrus – http://vimeo.com/10762256

    A Poem For Sarah Baartman

    By Diana Ferrus

    I’ve come to take you home –
    home, remember the veld?
    the lush green grass beneath the big oak trees
    the air is cool there and the sun does not burn.
    I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
    your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
    the proteas stand in yellow and white
    and the water in the stream chuckle sing-songs
    as it hobbles along over little stones.

    I have come to wretch you away –
    away from the poking eyes
    of the man-made monster
    who lives in the dark
    with his clutches of imperialism
    who dissects your body bit by bit
    who likens your soul to that of Satan
    and declares himself the ultimate god!

    I have come to soothe your heavy heart
    I offer my bosom to your weary soul
    I will cover your face with the palms of my hands
    I will run my lips over lines in your neck
    I will feast my eyes on the beauty of you
    and I will sing for you
    for I have come to bring you peace.

    I have come to take you home
    where the ancient mountains shout your name.
    I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
    your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
    the proteas stand in yellow and white –
    I have come to take you home
    where I will sing for you
    for you have brought me peace.

    Diana Ferrus, is a critically-acclaimed South African poet of Khoisan descent. She wrote “A poem for Sarah Baartman” while studying at the University of Utrecht, Holland, in 1998.

    She told Marang Setshwaelo: “One evening I was looking at the stars and I thought to myself, ‘They’re so far away. But if I were home, I’d be able to touch every one of them.’ My heart just went out to Sarah, and I thought, ‘Oh, god, she died of heartbreak, she longed for her country. What did she feel?’ That’s why the first line of the poem was ‘I’ve come to take you home.”

    This poem persuaded a leading French politician to campaign for the return of Sarah Baartman’s remains to her native South Africa.

    Sarah Baartman was finally brought home from France to rest in South Africa in January 2002, after more than 200 years of humiliation and abuse.

    http://www.thenewblackmagazine.com/view.aspx?index=1014

  • Panic as gang circumcises married women

    Published on

    By Patrick Muthuri

    Meru County

    Anxiety has gripped Athanja Sub-Location in Tigania East District after a group of women allegedly kidnapped and forcefully circumcised married women who are opposed to female circumcision.

    One woman was rescued from a group of circumcisers while another is still missing after she was reportedly hidden after the alleged mutilation in Kaithe village.

    Following the incident, seven suspects alleged to be members of a group that has been abducting woman and forcefully circumcising them were arrested.

    “The victim who escaped was lured into a house in the name of a meeting by the women. When she entered the house, she was ordered to undress but she screamed and neighbours came to her rescue.

    The gang has already abducted and circumcised one woman who is still missing,” said Ms Evangeline Kangai, a women�s rights activist.

    Area OCPD Charles Koskei said the suspects will be arraigned in court for propagating harmful cultural practices and urged the community to intensify campaigns against the vice.

    “The Constitution protects women against harmful cultural practices. We will not allow anyone to violate the basic rights of women,” the OCPD said. Kangai said the group made up of young and old women has been targeting married women.

    She said the group threatens uncircumcised women with isolation if they do not undergo the cut. “The group seems to have turned to married women because we have sensitised school girls against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).”

    Assaulted four women

    “We urge the Government to take stern action against the perpetrators since they are trying to revive the vice,” she said. She added the group has been training young women how to carry out FGM. “Among those arrested was a 23-year-old woman, the circumciser and a trainer. I urge all stakeholders to come in and ensure this is brought to an end,” said Kangai. Susan Munya said the group has assaulted about four women and called for crackdown on other suspects.

    Ann Kaburo, a health worker said the gang�s activities have broken up some families since they have been mutilating women without the knowledge of their husbands, who kick them out when they discover.

    Muthara Chief Nkunya Etirikia said the practice had dropped significantly and said he would fight those who attempt to revive it.

    Panic as gang circumcises married women

    Published on

    By Patrick Muthuri

    Meru County

    Anxiety has gripped Athanja Sub-Location in Tigania East District after a group of women allegedly kidnapped and forcefully circumcised married women who are opposed to female circumcision.

    One woman was rescued from a group of circumcisers while another is still missing after she was reportedly hidden after the alleged mutilation in Kaithe village.

    Following the incident, seven suspects alleged to be members of a group that has been abducting woman and forcefully circumcising them were arrested.

    “The victim who escaped was lured into a house in the name of a meeting by the women. When she entered the house, she was ordered to undress but she screamed and neighbours came to her rescue.

    The gang has already abducted and circumcised one woman who is still missing,” said Ms Evangeline Kangai, a women�s rights activist.

    Area OCPD Charles Koskei said the suspects will be arraigned in court for propagating harmful cultural practices and urged the community to intensify campaigns against the vice.

    “The Constitution protects women against harmful cultural practices. We will not allow anyone to violate the basic rights of women,” the OCPD said. Kangai said the group made up of young and old women has been targeting married women.

    She said the group threatens uncircumcised women with isolation if they do not undergo the cut. “The group seems to have turned to married women because we have sensitised school girls against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).”

    Assaulted four women

    “We urge the Government to take stern action against the perpetrators since they are trying to revive the vice,” she said. She added the group has been training young women how to carry out FGM. “Among those arrested was a 23-year-old woman, the circumciser and a trainer. I urge all stakeholders to come in and ensure this is brought to an end,” said Kangai. Susan Munya said the group has assaulted about four women and called for crackdown on other suspects.

    Ann Kaburo, a health worker said the gang�s activities have broken up some families since they have been mutilating women without the knowledge of their husbands, who kick them out when they discover.

    Muthara Chief Nkunya Etirikia said the practice had dropped significantly and said he would fight those who attempt to revive it.

  • Oh My Good God Let us all Pity Millattos Millatos born cursed by illisponsible parents btw two races.Its just a pity !What a pity.

  • As an artist of mixed parentage myself (half Kenyan, half Danish) I can see why the cake stirred as much controversy as it did.

    However, what is the role of art when push comes to shove ? True art provokes, it creates controversy as this cake certainly has. My philosophical queries pertinent to this are therefore 1) Would the reactions have been any different if the cake was of another colour ? 2) What if the cake was white, chocolate and other pigments that constitute the diverse nature of humanity, would the pieced still be elucidated as a racist one ?

    Having grown up in Kenya, I am fully aware of the sad reality of female genital mutilation, which is part of the over-arching suppression of women in Africa and I feel that not enough attention has been dedicated to eradicating it. The cake was one way of drawing attention to this controversial issue, and the fact that it laughed when cut, was, by my judgement sarcastic and intended to disturb those cutting the cake. The fact that in the video of the cake being cut, people are standing around laughing and taking pictures of the cake and don’t look genuinely disturbed perhaps suggests that, whilst the intentions of the artist were legit, perhaps his medium was not the most adequate. It has got people talking though and therefore attention has de facto, been shed on the issue of FGM, so the piece has, whether by accident or design, portrayed the issue in a negative light.

    My conclusion is that whilst the artist’s intent may have been well and good, his medium was to put it mildly, controversial. Perhaps he should have accompanied his piece with scripts decrying FGM to avoid the adversity that has emanated from it. To allege that the piece is racist based on the face-value view of the video is justifiable. However, when one digs deeper and examines the context in which the different factors and actors involved in this matter interplay, to cry racism is far.fetched.

  • Surprisingly many of the people that are outraged and posting comment here display the very same traits that have caused such uproar, unfettered and uninhabited racism with no apologies.

    The artist in question clearly has wrong perceptions, perspectives and is racially prejudiced. Many commentators are quick to attribute the misconceptions held by the artist to his mixed ethnicity. What differentiates these commentators on KSB from bigoted white racists that attribute the Negros predicament as a consequence of his ethnicity? Why should a person’s misguided actions or perceptions be attributed to ethnicity or ancestry?

    As an African experiencing the same prejudice from those that consider themselves racially superior, I vigorously desist from expounding on issues in this light. One does get to choose or elect where they hail from. Being vain about ones ethnicity or using ethnicity to discredit someone else is, in my book, a clear indication of being mentally and intellectually challenged. At the very least it is the case of the kettle calling the pot black.

  • Minstrels and ministers make bad bedfellows
    Published: 19 Apr 12 15:46 CET

    Art installation or not, politicians have no business taking part in minstrel shows, argues Carmen Price, an American freelance writer based in Stockholm, in reaction to the ‘racist’ cake controversy involving Swedish minister of culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth.

    After reading Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth’s defense of her actions in Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, I get the feeling that the minister of culture is more interested in rendering herself a martyr of artistic self-expression than genuinely apologizing to her offended constituents.

    According to Adelsohn Liljeroth, “art must be allowed to provoke” and “pose uncomfortable questions”.

    Give me a break.

    Adelsohn Liljeroth may not be an overt racist, but she has shown herself to be both overtly ignorant and overtly narcissistic.

    Her participation in Makode Linde’s performance art installation at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet’s celebration of World Art Day was offensive in the deepest way, and she had no business taking part in a minstrel show, art installation or not.

    Since Shakespeare’s Othello, people of African descent have been caricatured in various degrading manifestations of black face, but the American minstrel show, from which Linde clearly derives the inspiration for his aesthetic, has undoubtedly played the largest role in spreading racist black archetypes across the globe

    Minstrel shows began as black face variety acts performed by both black and white people in the Antebellum South. These shows caricatured black people as lazy, happy clappy, and/or buffoonish.

    The menacing, white-woman crazy Buck; the back-talking, insubordinate Mammy; the eye-bulging, watermelon-gobbling Pickaninny; the hypersexual Jezebel – these are just a few of the abominably demeaning images still deeply ingrained in our collective psyche, and black people across the world are still chained to the erroneous beliefs surrounding these stereotypes.

    Black Swedish artist Makode Linde clearly uses these archetypes as a way to critique and lampoon racism, and it is his right as an artist to do so.

    I may not like it, it may make me feel uncomfortable, but in a free society to you do not limit artistic expression. In a free society we all agree that the value of a work of art is left up to individual aesthetic judgment, even at the expense of our own opinions and sometimes morals.

    That is Free Speech 101.

    But Adelsohn Liljeroth is not an artist or private art patron–she is a public servant.

    And any good politician knows that their ability to exercise free speech is limited by the constraints of political correctness: when or where have politicians ever been allowed to say or do whatever they want? Since when are politicians supposed to be provocative and offensive by way of installation art?

    Adelsohn Liljeroth’s brazen and audacious performance of a “clitorectomy” on a racist cake is more than a bad judgment call – it demonstrates her lack of respect for African-descended Swedes, a lack of respect for the office she holds, and an unnerving sense of entitled arrogance.

    Sweden isn’t that far removed from the days of the Statens Institut för Rasbiologi (‘The State Institute for Race Biology’) and race-based forced sterilizations (not to mention mock slave auctions at Lund University) to be in a position to have their white minister of culture making a mockery of institutionalized racism.

    Despite Sweden’s global reputation as a bastion social liberalism, it is in no way a paragon of racial equality, as evidenced by the nation’s confusion regarding how to integrate their burgeoning multicultural populations beyond the confines of parallel societies such as Malmö’s Rosengård or Stockholm’s Rinkeby.

    Adelsohn Liljeroth’s actions have not raised more “awareness” for genital mutilation in Africa and frankly, I don’t see how a gathering of cultural elites at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet could do anything to put a halt to the horrors of female circumcision.

    The performance art installation was certainly a display of self-congratulatory avant-gardism, but in my opinion, it did nothing to effect real social-change vis-a-vis women’s rights and the protection of women’s bodies.

    If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a video speaks a million.

    In this case we have both and they portray Adelsohn Liljeroth with the white, Swedish left-wing elite laughing, smiling, and drinking wine all while cheerfully engaging in a racist minstrel spectacle.

    And there wasn’t a black face in the crowd (except for that of the artist in the cake).

    Adelsohn Liljeroth clearly sees herself as the victim of the general populace of philistines who don’t “appreciate” or “get” modern art.

    So let me put it to her this way: If the cake had been a Nazi-era Jewish caricature, would you have gone within five kilometers of the knife, minister Adelsohn Liljeroth?

    Carmen Price is a American freelance writer and former Fulbright fellow based in Stockholm.

  • Theodros Arega (@iREFUGEEE)

    Thanks Joyce for a very insightful and well-versed piece which brought the out-right racist and misogynistic agenda to the surface

  • I got the link from Makode Linde’s facebook page. So, he has read it. He is lost in Europe and does not know his roots therefore he cannot respect his roots because he has none really.

    The Yoruba people of Nigeria say that it is only a bastard that would use his left hand to point to his father’s house and that is exactly what Makode Linde did in the shameful black spectacle cake cutting controversy.

    He has dreadlocks, I just hope that he does not claim to be a Rasta because that would cause a fresh controversy. In the UK, you will not see a black man painting or making Golliwogs and claim that he is using it to fight the stereotypes of black people. Makode needs help because he is totally lost in sorrow and wants to make black people sad by mocking them.

    He is used by the swedish racist machinery to attack his own people and he is OK with it. Does the idiot know that the ugly Golli face is no longer on the Robertson’s jam in the UK where racism is unlawful. Sorry but MOST Swedish people are nothing but racists.

  • where r Kenya-Stockholm feminists? Their voices r needed in this controversy!

  • Allan Kortbaek #38, is another confused Mulatto.

  • Makode Linde provoked and should therefore accept provocation from others, including being called a confused racist. He deserves it with his twisted artistic madness.

  • Racheal Giriba

    Allan Kortbaek: You sound like an ignorant white missionary preaching to a white audience after a returning from a short trip in Africa.Makode Linde could have done more than his metaphoric, useless portrayal of the sad situation women face due to FGM.There are other structural and deep-seated cultural matters hindering its eradication.He could have done better with an immigrant group.Otherwise what he did was for his personal gain and has not added anything in the fight against FGM.there is no measure of the outcome of his action beyond the Western media.Much of the poor world is not concerned with Makode’s “awareness” because they have no Internet.Let him enjoy his 15 minutes of fame and leave the work of raising awareness to serious policymakers and other organizations who work beyond a cake being cut by ignorant whites and a crying Mulatto.

    There is a lot to be done in the EU about FGM regardless of the available stringent laws to protect women. See: http://www.loseuros.eu/spip.php?page=forum&id_article=4707&id_forum=5644&lang=en

  • GOD SWEDEN HAD NO COLONY IN AFRICA

    of African Children Are Modern Day Slavery
    Posted October 30th, 2007 by Wandia Njoya in African Affairs
    Wandia Njoya writes, I feel partially vindicated by the decision of authorities in Chad to charge six French nationals, members of the French humanitarian organization L’Arche de Zoe (Zoe’s Arc), with kidnapping of children from Chad destined for adoption in France. I wish the six faced a more serious charge such as child trafficking or slave trade (banned two centuries ago), but for now I’ll appreciate these charges as a minor victory.

    L’Arche de Zoe was unable to coherently explain why 103 children (the number itself is staggering!) were being taken to France, which proves once again that the adoption of African children by Europeans has no justification. The organization’s feeble excuse that the efforts were not malicious but humanitarian rides on the inherent racist belief that anything whites do is righteous and acceptable, and that Africans should accept any insult or mistreatment because nothing is more miserable than their very existence without any intervention from whites. The resort to their good intentions as a defence is also a poor attempt to dismiss the historical relationship between Europe and Africa that inherently infects any European intervention in the African continent, however benevolent. Even colonialism was justified by its good intentions, namely the desire of European governments and intellectuals to “civilize” Africans and of churches to save the lost souls in the continent.

    The explanation of L’Arche de Zoe that the children were not going to be adopted but hosted also flies in the face of reason. In the Western context, host families are understood to be part of an educational program and under contract to live with foreign teenagers and university students for a couple of months. The travel expenses are paid for by the children’s parents, not the host families, and the parents know where their children are and expect them to return after a specified time. But the L’Arche de Zoe has not provided proof or such arrangements. Why would they, when Madonna and her ilk have continued the racist myth that children in Africa have no parents, and even if they did, the parents are just biological accidents rather than flesh and blood adults? The expatriation of the children was not going to be temporary. It is unlikely that the children had the option to return home when it was the French benefactors, not their parents, who paid approximately $3,000 for “travel expenses.” The organization’s clarification that the money was for travel expenses rather than the price of the children themselves is an attempt at splitting hairs. The shipping companies in Boston probably said the same thing to exonerate themselves when slave ships docked at the ports to empty its human cargo headed for plantations in the South.

    With a “host” program in which African parents have no input, it is not surprising that the children headed for France were actually Chadian, not Sudanese. The mistake was almost inevitable, since it is doubtful that the organization’s staff speaks any of the languages of the groups concerned. It is unlikely that the organization even cared, since Western organizations are not held up to scrutiny for competence or credibility when Africa is the subject of attention. As long as children with black skin showed up in France, the French nationals paying for the trip would probably not have cared if the children were from Senegal, Gabon, Zambia or Botswana.

    Even if the children were indeed from Darfur, it is improbable that they were in a refugee camp with no adults. It is hard to believe that during conflict, children under 13 trek thousands of miles on their own, unaccompanied by an adult relative or fellow villager. And even if they did, human nature would have made them form bonds with adults who were in the same predicament as they were. The question therefore arises as to why African adult refugees are not included in this purported mission to save African children. Why are these adults not given the resources to take care of the children, since they come from the same area and speak the same language?

    But that’s the thing about the Western fuss about African children: African adults are rarely mentioned. The best attempt at mentioning them is in the presentation of a teenage mother who is portrayed as having too many children for her age, or an older mother who is described as so oppressed by patriarchy that she cannot speak for herself. The exclusion of African adults from the humanitarian picture allows Euro-America to speak of Africa as if it is a continent where children pop out of the ground like a mineral resource waiting to be harvested by Hollywood, humanitarian organizations and European politicians. Only the gods can tell us how that mentality is different from the days of slavery when Africa was regarded as a labor resource.

    The logic that justifies L’Arche de Zoe or Madonna stealing African children from under the communities’ noses without attracting moral indignation from the Western world lacks coherence. In the United States and Europe, no one would accept that state authorities take all children away from their parents simply because the latter earn less than $10,000 a year. That is why these countries have a welfare system. But African governments do not have one because the Euro-American governments now lamenting about the African child are the same ones that denied African parents their livelihoods by imposing privatisation of public resources in Africa and advocating for free market policies in African agriculture while the Euro-American farmers are still subsidized.

    There are two things that make the hypocrisy of Western laments about African children sickening. The first and obvious one is that African slavery, by its very nature, was based on the separation of African children from their parents, whether in the motherland or in the Americas. In the Americas, slaves’ right to raise their own children was constantly violated because the children were considered the property of the master and were often sold to prevent Africans from maintaining family bonds that could upset the economic system. The fight against slavery embodied in people such as Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth included the fight of Black Americans to raise and protect their own children. The Juneteenth celebration commemorates the end of slavery when Black Americans sought to locate their families and loved ones from whom they had been separated. This fight for social dignity as Black people continued into the twentieth century. It is echoed in Martin Luther King Jnr’s famous “I have a Dream” speech in which he affirmed his fight to make a world a better place for his four children, or in the famous photo of Malcolm X holding a gun after his family was attacked in their home. For white philanthropists to come to Africa and snatch children away from their homeland, and then cynically justify their actions by arguing that Africa is a miserable place, is a sign of outright arrogance and contempt for African struggles over the centuries.

    The second disturbing thing about Western adoptions is, sadly, the fact that some Africans accept these adoptions as well intended and often dismiss those who question the practice as jealous hypocrites. In Kenya, for example, some bloggers in the local dailies argued, with obvious bitterness, that critics of the Madonna adoption should have taken the child and raised him themselves instead of complaining. At the heart of these responses is a deep-seated belief that the African existence is purely biological, and so identity and self-worth are inconsequential as long as an African child is given food and shelter by a Hollywood star. It is difficult to explain the self-hatred embodied in such statements. There may be a class issue at stake, in which members of the economically modest African classes feel that the African elite do not have the moral authority to stifle their only shot at leading the same lifestyle as the Western-educated and travelled elites. However, it is doubtful that a member of the English working class would accept the same logic if Kofi Olomide or some other African pop star offered to adopt a poor European child and raise him in the luxury of Kinshasa, or even Paris for that matter. I doubt that the poor and homeless whites in New York, Paris and London would appreciate TV crews and humanitarian organizations, whether Western or African, invading their privacy in order to raise money for them. Material wealth without dignity is always demeaning, which is the precise reason why Madonna, Bono and Angelina Jolie come to Africa in the first place: in search of the dignity that fame and fortune have failed to provide.

    Westerners do not help the African poor merely out of benevolence. To the adamant sceptics who think otherwise, I recommend BBC interview of Lemn Sissay, an Ethiopian poet adopted by English parents, and Aminata Sow Fall’s excellent novel La Grève des battus or The Calabash-Bearers’ Strike, which its English translator titled The Beggars’ Strike. Those who prefer movies may want to watch The Pursuit of Happyness, in which Will Smith gives the best performance of his career in his portrayal Chris Gardner’s commitment to raise his son despite his adverse living conditions. The Rabbit Proof Fence is another excellent film about the despicable policy of the Australian government in the early 20th century to raise children of indigenous peoples. Given the risks that the children in the film underwent to rejoin their mother, the assumption that African children do not care about their parents but only want food, clothing and school uniform does not hold any weight. Sissay articulately states in the BBC interview: “When somebody takes a child from their native culture, that is in itself an act of aggression. People will often say, love is all you need. But that is not true. Love without understanding is a dangerous thing.”

    The favourable response of some Africans to these adoptions demonstrates the urgent need for us to constantly affirm that our dignity is priceless. The poor have a right to respect, to family life, to privacy and to dignity without the Western media intruding into their households with cameras. The African elite have partially abetted the violation of the dignity of the African poor by welcoming the celebrities and accepting economic measures imposed by the IMF and the World Bank that cripple the ability of African parents to raise their children. Euro-America does not really care about poverty but is trying to use the poverty of some Africans to make Africans worldwide feel too ashamed to stand up for themselves. Thomas Sankara, the eminent Bourkinabe revolutionary, demonstrated that we can hold our heads high despite our dire circumstances. While acknowledging and attempting to redress the dire straits in which most of his people lived, he refused to let the poverty in his country be used as an excuse to silence Bourkina Faso. He castigated France for its support for the apartheid regime and opposed American resolutions during Bourkina Faso’s tenure in the UN Security council. He paid the ultimate price for his courage when he was assassinated with the help of the French government.

    The prosecution of the six French nationals in Chad, a country that has been visited by Angelina Jolie, could be seen as a minor victory in the assertion of our dignity as Africans. I say “minor” because I doubt that the six will be convicted, and even if they are, it is unlikely that the Chad authorities will place six white people in the same prison cells as ordinary Chadian criminals. In fact, it is surprising that the authorities proceeded to prosecute the six rather than release them on some technicality. Chad’s president Idriss Deby is a life member of Françafrique, the cartel of French and African governments that profits from civil conflict and exploitation of mineral resources in Africa. He depends on France for political survival, and he recently amended the constitution to run for an extra term as president. Deby could not have condemned the actions of the French humanitarian organization without receiving a heads up from Nicolas Sarkozy, which press reports indicate Sarkozy has given in return for Deby’s support of the EU’s peace-keeping mission in Darfur.

    This political deal is ambiguous, if not sinister. As far as peace-keeping goes, the Western world, and France in particular, has a grievous and deadly record in Africa. Some will remember the white supremacist-style lynching of Somali teenager Shidane Arone by Canadian peace-keepers in 1993, an action whose ideological roots were traced to white-supremacist groups that had infiltrated Fort Bragg, North Carolina and influenced soldiers to terrorize Black civilians of Fayetteville. In 1994 there was Operation Turquoise, dubbed by the French government as a peace-keeping mission to Rwanda but which was, in reality, a conduit for political and military support to the organizers of the genocide. French soldiers are reported to have participated in rapes and assisted in the disposal of bodies in mass graves.

    Given this background, it is inevitable that one would suspect that the French government has bigger political and economic interests at stake when its president and government are willing to sacrifice six of their nationals to protect their mission to Darfur. These interests may include petrol, or the desire to redeem the French national pride dented by the Fashoda syndrome. It was a century ago that the French imperial expansion was stopped at Djibouti when its arch rivals the British outmanoeuvred the French in the Sudan. The same rivalry was behind the Operation Turquoise, in which the French sought to stop the penetration of Rwanda by the “Anglo-Saxons” from Uganda. As with the case in Rwanda, the French government may see this EU intervention in Darfur a means of settling a political score, which will be yet another instance in which it will be playing political games with African lives.

    Despite my reservations, I still hope that the officials of L’Arche de Zoe go to jail, where they belong. More than that, I hope the trial will resound as the willingness of Africans to protect their dignity and as a reminder to the Western world that our children are not for sale. In the meantime, we will pour libations to the ancestors in memory of the African members of the AU force who lost their lives in Darfur as they honored that commitment.

  • i have a slightly different view of all this and would not mind if you checked it out on sensenotfear.blogspot.com

  • Maria Simonsson

    “In fact he is a typical example of many other confused Swedish “Mulattoes” who have no particular description or identity of their African background, because they disregard that parentage.” Isnt that a little degrading? I think Makode is allowed to have a voice even if he´s a “mulatto”. Its one thing to criticise the art, another to take away a persons right to intellectual freedom because he´s got the wrong skincolor.

  • Mixed-Race Generation Faces Identity Crisis

    April 24, 1988|ITABARI NJERI | Times Staff Writer

    Molefi Asante, chairman of the African-American Studies Department at Temple University, rejects the notion of pervasive color discrimination among blacks. Asante thinks that the black consciousness movement of the ’60s and ’70s dramatically reduced color bias in the African-American community.

    The real problem, he suspects, is that there is a new “mulatto dilemma” brewing in America. Asante, 45, and the author of 24 books on black culture and history including “The Afro-Centric View,” says there is a whole new generation of mixed-raced children, born to black and white couples shortly before and after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the nation’s anti-miscegenation laws in 1967.

    ‘Who Am I?’

    These young people, some of them his students, have little knowledge of American history and the traditional definition of what it means to be black in America, “which is that any degree of African ancestry makes you black.” Even though that social definition still exists, says Asante, who is a black American, it is no longer rigidly enforced by law. “These students come to me and say: ‘I have one parent who is black and one who is white. Who am I?’ ”

    Indeed, some social scientists believe that the growing numbers of mixed-raced children are an “emerging” population that will have a significant effect on American society–one that may lead to a new definition of race in America.

    One such expert, UC Berkeley clinical psychologist Dr. Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, predicts that by the middle of the 21st Century “all current racial categories in America will become almost meaningless.”

    Taylor Gibbs, who is an expert in the little-studied field of mixed-race children, says there are an estimated 1 million children of black-white marriages in the United States, based on the 1980 Census, “and that is probably an undercount.”

    Interracial marriages will “continue to increase despite sentiment against them in the country,” says Taylor Gibbs, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at UC Berkeley and editor of “Young, Black and Male in America: An Endangered Species,” which will be released next month.

    She is about to conduct a study of emotionally adjusted children from black-white families in the Oakland area, but cautions that her research so far has basically focused on children referred for psychological counseling.

    Among this group, children frequently have a problem of “personal identity,” says Taylor Gibbs, who describes herself as black from a mixed-race background. “They find it difficult to call themselves black. The parents often bring them up with what I consider to be unrealistic attitudes. They tell them, ‘You are citizens of the world. You are God’s children.’

    “And as I always say, ‘The census doesn’t have any place for God’s children.’ ”

    Since there is no “colored” category, as exists in South Africa, or “mulatto” category in the United States, says Taylor Gibbs, these children don’t know what to label themselves.

    http://articles.latimes.com/print/1988-04-24/news/vw-2474_1_taylor-gibbs

  • Black face has nothing to do with Africans in Africa, but has to do with African-American history…. <<<<< hmmmm In the 1700s and 1800s the people they were demeaning were Africans who were born in Africa. When Africans came to the United States, they were stripped of their African names, they always held their African identity until the US Government said it wasn't good for their business in Africa. You have to be stupid to think that when Whites went around the world destroying the image of Africans in America, that it has nothing to do with Africans who never left Africa? You can't be this stupid. They would show pictures of our ancestors in the Jungle in Africa in the 1700s and 1800s. They would tell us that our African ancestors were monkeys and savages… You think that excludes you when they took our grandparents OUT OF AFRICA? You cant be that idiotic. Black face demeans the entire AFRICAN NATION. And this magic mulatto is no confused, you are the one that is confused to thinking because someone has some African blood it means they respect, honor and love Africans. You have some growing to do intellectual.

  • Adejola, I have decided to answer you because your comment touched on some parts of my article. You seem not to have understood the gist of the discourse which disputed the relationship between female genital mutilation and blackface minstrelsy. There is a difference between “blackface minstrelsy” which is “a form of theatrical makeup used by white performers to represent a black person” and “black face” which is the physical color of many people of African descent.

    Your argument has introduced the white race and their brutality in Africa into Makode’s imagery, thereby deviating to issues that have nothing to do with his controversial black cake. Which African does not know the role of whites in our history?

    I find it difficult to engage you beyond my short commentary because you are banal and have nothing new to add within this context. You could have done better by advancing a mature discussion devoid of petty insults using ‘stupid’ and ‘idiotic’ because that shows you lack the intellectual sophistication needed in this sensitive topic.

    • I corrected a mistake you made in your article. If you are offended that that is your problem. I commented on the part of your article that was inaccurate the rest of it I had no problem with. I don’t don’t think it is petty or lacks intellect by calling stupid and idiotic statements for what they are. If a person takes personal, an individual calling an statement stupid or idiotic then it speaks to their maturity and not the ignorance and stupidity of a person who would make a statement that blackface has nothing to do with continental Africans.

  • Adejola, once again I mention that you do not understand the core of this input; therefore will never add anything substantive to it. (BLACKFACE MINSTREL is not the original black face = skin color of people with African descent).

    It must be mentally challenging for you to be on a lane that is off the targeted destination. Continue with the ad hominem argument which clearly illustrates your lack of intellectual sophistry. As long as IT is not there, you can play semantics Ad infinitum, but you will never comprehend it.

    Makode’s cake was debated globally by feminists and human rights experts. You need to read their critique to understand the dichotomy you are denying: blackface (one word) and black face (two words) which you are adamant about and rightfully irrelevant within this context.

  • Ya nini kubishana na Adejola ambaye anafichua upungufu wake wa akili hapa mtandaoni? Aonekana bado mfyonza kidole gumba kwani mizizi ya ubongo wake bado haijakomaa. Ana kasoro ya kutofautisha maneno na pia sarufi yake duni. Ameelezewa kinagaubaga lakini yeye kimwondo cha kimataifa hawezi kuelewa.

  • Mwanaidi achana na huyo Adejola ambaye ni mchochota aletae mchokocho. Yeye sio mbuji katika eneo linalojadiliwa. Hana kipya katika muktadha huu. Mhurumie anaugua ubenibeni baada ya kwenda mrama. Watetezi wa nadharia ya usawa wa wanawake walishatoa changamoto na kufanya mdahalo kwa kazi ya Makode na hali Adejola anajifanya sugu kwa kuturudisha nyuma. Usijali kichwa chake kimejaa saruji haelewi chochote.

    • By experts you mean White people. Comical how many continental especially Kenyans are always running behind some WHITE PERSON spewing Eurocentric Rhetoric. Dont worry, you will be dealth with as Robert Mugabe dealt with the reactionary and ignorant Africans who follow behind Europeans and are the intellectual slaves. 100% of your commentary comes from White EUROPEAN LIBERAL ideologues and who gives a fuck about you speaking Kukiyu there 2500 languages in Africa speak some Igbo or Yoruba. You are probably a White person posing as a Kenyan anyways. Comical.

  • Mjinga Adejola azidi kupayuka. Kashindwa kubishana na kutumia akili sasa ni matusi. Basi ndio pumbavu wa mwisho asiejuwa chochote. Anazidisha ushenzi wake kwani hajui mdahalo. Kichwa katie mkunduni mwake. Ni kumhurumia tu!

  • From Afrikagrupperna

    Senast uppdaterad onsdag, 25 april 2012 16:06

    Statement on the cake event at Moderna Muséet

    During the last week an art event in Sweden has caused international attention. At the opening of the World Art Day at the Stockholm Museum of Modern Art, the minister of Culture was asked to cut the cake. The cake it turned out, was made to look like a stereotypical African woman, naked. The head was that of the artist made up as a blackface with a large red mouth. The minister of culture then cut the first piece, the genitals, and fed the artist with it. The laughing guests then cut the rest of the cake while it screamed and asked for mercy.

    The theme of the day was freedom of speech, the struggle against censorship and the right to provoke. The artist behind the cake said it was meant to symbolize massgraves, butchering and female genital cutting.
    – I wanted it to be uncomfortable to cut in, and it would make people reflect, he says, and points out that it is important to see the intention behind the work, that it is not about racism.

    The following debate stayed around the issues of whether the work was racist, whether the minister of culture was acting in a racist or ignorant way by cutting the cake and whether people who felt offended by it ought to feel so, or if they had simply misunderstood the performance.

    Afrikagrupperna feel that the event may serve as an illustration of how wealthy Nordic elites cut up Africa and feeds on its bodies daily without consideration. We do not see that it brings up issues around female genital cutting in a constructive way.

    There may be a value to this art work in revealing this that we already are too well aware of. However, this value comes at a very high price. There is no evidence that women, black women, women subjected to FGC, victims of colonialisation or victims of the existing violent exploitation of Africa, its resources and bodies were consulted in the planning, creation or performance of this work. The value of the event in the struggle against these injustices, one of the outspoken intentions, is nowhere to be seen. What is instead very clear is how many people have been deeply and personally offended by the event.

    We will not ask for any resignation or public apologies. What we do call for is for the minister of Culture not to dodge the issues. How can it be that in Sweden people know so little of the colonial history in Africa and the current way we are exploiting Africa to make it acceptable to reproduce these images again today. We call for an initiative to deeply discuss the image of Africa that is reproduced in Sweden today and how we can change it.

    We also call for the artist, the KRO and the Museum of Modern art to make a concrete contribution to the struggle against FGC, in order to make the aftermath of this event at least in some way serve the cause.

    Afrikagrupperna
    http://afrikagrupperna.se/about-us/about-the-negro-cake

  • The ‘racist chair’ is not shocking but a cruel reminder of the art world’s views

    Hana Riaz

    The Guardian, Wednesday 22 January 2014 12.42 GMT

    A photo of Roman Abramovich’s partner, Dasha Zhukova, sitting on a chair resembling a semi-nude bondaged black woman – published this week on a Russian fashion site – added to a painful list of black women’s bodies being treated as expendable objects. Regardless of the outrage that led to the photograph’s removal, the barrage of images like this one continues to demonstrate that pop culture, art and fashion are not only riddled with racism, but dependent on it. Shocking? Far from it.

    In the past year alone the internet has exploded with similar debates about Miley Cyrus “twerking” with black women as props to her act, and Lily Allen using black women’s bodies in a music video to prove a “satirical” point about something or another. Like the gallery owner Zhukova and the fashion site Buro 24/7, neither they nor their teams considered what they were doing to be racist, sexist, or problematic to begin with.

    What becomes particularly dangerous in these debates, however, is the insistence that art has a distinct right to offend, regardless of who or why it offends. The designer of the chair, the Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard, is a prime example. According to Zhukova’s spokesperson, in reinterpreting works by Allen Jones, who used white women’s bodies as furniture, this chair provides a commentary on race and gender politics. But the question to ask is: who is it designed to shock and disturb?

    The photo of Zhukova provoked outrage among black women, who are all too familiar with white women’s historical complicity in the oppression and injustices suffered by black women and men (as highlighted recently in the award-winning film 12 Years a Slave ).

    While these images are offensive, painful reminders of being subjected to regular inhumanity, they aren’t shocking to black women, who are used to being portrayed as hypersexualised, abused and ridiculed objects. There is a long colonial history that stretches from academia to the everyday imagination in the form of cartoons, caricatures and even human zoos. One of the best-known examples is the Hottentot Venus, or Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman, a Khoi woman taken from the Eastern Cape and paraded all over 19th century Europe. Displayed for scientific examination and public entertainment, she was ultimately classified as both negro and orangutan. More than 200 years later, Baartman’s skeleton and a cast of her body remained on display in a museum – until the late 1970s. Her body offered a spectacle: one that read blackness, and black womanhood as inhuman.

    Melgaard pays poor lip service to these racist tropes, arguing that “racism is a form of sexuality. It is all about sexual jealousy and sexual threat”. He might be attempting to confront the act of fetishism that is often involved in the gendered racialisation of black bodies – the eroticism and desire that underlies the disavowal involved in racism – but he does so by using black women’s bodies as collateral.

    When Zhukova is photographed on the chair, to illustrate an interview devoid of context about the “art” in itself, this speaks volumes about which audiences are allowed to respond. In an art-for-art’s-sake world, artists are allowed to use real socio-political questions as impetus for their work, but have limited accountability. Those who are outraged and offended at the portrayal (yet again) of black women’s bodies – their bodies – as the expendable backdrop or prop to some ill-conceived artistic point are dismissed as either having misunderstood the “art”, or as being ungrateful to the artist for giving voice to their concerns. But injustice and denigration cannot be reduced simply to a piece in a gallery.
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/22/racist-chair-shocking-cruel-reminder

  • Pray for those people.

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