What do a cake, a runner, a rainbow and a kalashnikov have in common
December 31, 2012 3:47 AM   Subscribe

10 Contested African Images of 2012
posted by litleozy (32 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, only one image of dead bodies.
Africa's looking up.

That Pride parade might be my favourite.
posted by Mezentian at 3:52 AM on December 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


The commentary on the Mo Farah picture is a bit off. Britain did not struggle to win major events, but came third in the medal table, which is a big achievement for a nation of its size. And in my view the subsequent celebrations did not ignore the complex nature of national identity in modern Britain.

This is disappointing because the Africa is a Country blog seems to have fallen into the very trap which aims to avoid, i.e. writing about African topics in automatically miserable terms.
posted by mattn at 4:13 AM on December 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


The article is really worth a read, and for anyone who wants to read more here are some Mefi links (probably should've thought to include these in the OP, but only occurred to me now)

Swedish artist Makode Linde's gollywog-style cake

Contested Azawad territory in Mali

Kony 2012

Miners strike in Marikana

General strike in Nigeria over rise in fuel prices

Artist Brett Murray's controversial painting of South African President Jacob Zuma

Also, just to give a bit more context to the photo of the Olympics, there was a 'debate' in the UK at the time on the Britishness of immigrant athletes representing Great Britain. They were called plastic Brits.
posted by litleozy at 4:16 AM on December 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Go Mo! He's fab! And British! And a Commander of the British Empire!
posted by alasdair at 4:24 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


That 'plastic Brits' idea is very offensive. I'm not sure it represents much of a 'debate' though – more a non-controversy stirred up by the rabidly right-wing Daily Mail.
posted by mattn at 4:26 AM on December 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Aye agreed, and I do think that the Olympics photo is the weakest on the list even when you factor in the plastic Brit angle. That said, I can see TV watchers grumbling: "these foreigners coming in here, winning us medals..." and it does tie in with all those great pub conversations about which England footballers really do represent the nation and which are lucky to just be allowed in the country.
posted by litleozy at 4:33 AM on December 31, 2012


I have no idea of the "plastic Brits" context (and I won't be reading the links just now), but I am aware that in sporting events, issues of nationality now seem driven by cash-money, and I am not just referencing said runner. There was a Russian dude who did something like make an nth hour deal for citizenship (in Australia?).

and it does tie in with all those great pub conversations about which England footballers really do represent the nation and which are lucky to just be allowed in the country.

It is a conversation worth having. I heard BBC SportsWorld the other day and I was a bit confused about which league they were talking about. Not here, I suspect, but it seems as if National Sports on the international stage is a bit all over the shop. We should corporatise that.
posted by Mezentian at 5:10 AM on December 31, 2012


If Britain doesn't want its "plastic Brits", Canada will take them - we need all the help at the Olympics that we can get!
posted by KokuRyu at 6:32 AM on December 31, 2012


Re : Mo Farah.

No-one thought Mo was a plastic Brit. (If you want plastic, check out this guy's accent : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DKf1NOKAlo)

Surprised the website isn't selling Mo as a big success, because that's what he is. The Sun newspaper (of all people) said after the Olympics that the performance of our athletes of all colours proves one thing : The British National Party is finished. Defeated by whom ? The immigrants who have made a success of living in Britain.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 6:34 AM on December 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I had really hoped to never see that cake thing again.
posted by jquinby at 6:55 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you want plastic, check out this guy's accent

We're disowning the children of British servicemen stationed overseas?
posted by biffa at 7:00 AM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Should anyone revive the "plastic Brit" charge, however, here is how Mo Farah, his voice denoting impatience, responded last night when asked by one journalist if he would have preferred to run as a Somali.

" Look mate, this is my country. This is where I grew up, this is where I started life. This is my country and when I put on my Great Britain vest I'm proud. I'm very proud."

posted by Segundus at 7:04 AM on December 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


They were called plastic Brits.

By media outlets which sell papers and get page views by inventing and perpetuating controversies. "Plastic Brits" was a nontroversy, invented by right-wing media sources which backed away from it just as quickly when it turned out to be orthogonal to the public mood.

(See also the belly-crawling and hurried website edits by right-wing opinionistas when it turned out that, actually, the general public had not looked at the opening ceremony and seen the same sickening propaganda campaign for multiculturalism that they had...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:16 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


WTF CAKE.
posted by Artw at 7:27 AM on December 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Well, only one image of dead bodies. Africa's looking up.

Well that's because the blogger made space for Liljeroth's absurd gollywog cake, but couldn't find a single image from the civil war in Congo - the planet's bloodiest conflict since WW2 and an on-going human disaster:

"with more than five million dead. It seems incomprehensible that the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa and on paper one of the richest, teeming with copper, diamonds and gold, vast farmlands of spectacular fertility and enough hydropower to light up the continent, is now one of the poorest, most hopeless nations on earth. Unfortunately, there are no promising solutions within grasp, or even within sight."

But that gollywog cake is so much more interesting.
posted by three blind mice at 7:32 AM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not reply an either/or situation, is it? Congo will continue to be an unfixable shithole with or without the cake.
posted by Artw at 7:50 AM on December 31, 2012


There's more to the continent of Africa, and the African diaspora, than the civil war in Congo. I think it's kind of ridiculous to suggest that AIAC is ignoring worthy discussion about political turmoil and violence in favor of frivolity because they didn't include a photograph from the Congo civil war. There are a lot of interesting and worthy conversations to be had about the depiction of Africa in art, African women's bodies, Africa in popular culture, the way the diaspora interacts with popular culture wherever it's taken route, etc. They're not painting over conflict on the continent in favor of rosy, ridiculous, and trivial art, either - the conflict in Mali is being generally ignored by the rest of the world, and violence in South African civil society is something we don't hear about, either.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:53 AM on December 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Thank you ChuraChura. I think it is VERY hard for some non-Africans to wrap their heads around the sentiments you have expressed. The continent has more than its fair share of strife but it's so much more than that.
posted by RedShrek at 9:12 AM on December 31, 2012


It is a conversation worth having. I heard BBC SportsWorld the other day and I was a bit confused about which league they were talking about.

Umm... what football club you play for depends on your passport only inasmuch as access to work permits depends on your passport. Most of those scary foreign names you heard don't/can't play for England. (Offhand I can think of relatively few shady nationality dealings in football that don't involve Qatar. I mean, we've still not made Almunia the England keeper.)
posted by hoyland at 10:37 AM on December 31, 2012


Word, ChuraChura.

Except the Mali part - it may not be getting as much press as the conflict in the Congo, but it isn't entirely being ignored, either:

Al Jazeera has a pretty comprehensive article.

AP does some good reporting on the Mali conflict - at least, once you get past the lede that implies all sorts of untrue things about what AQIM is and who is in control.

Following the UN resolution to send troops to Mali, the Canadian government contemplates its military's likely role.

Those are just articles I came across *today*. (To be fair, since I live in neighboring Burkina Faso I am keeping a much closer eye on the news for Mali than a typical American or European probably would.)
posted by solotoro at 10:45 AM on December 31, 2012


simplistic nonsense. Deporting illegals from Africa is racist etc¿ But sending back illegals ok if done in the U.S.?
There are Ethiopian Jews who have been air lifted into Israel and are now citizens.
posted by Postroad at 10:59 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is a conversation worth having. I heard BBC SportsWorld the other day and I was a bit confused about which league they were talking about.

Well, the English national team is made up of people eligible to play for England, decided by ancestry and place of birth. So, Owen Hargreaves, who was born in Canada to an English father and Welsh mother, and came to prominence while playing in Germany, was capped by England - he could also have played for Wales or Canada, but once he had chosen one it would have been hard to switch.

However, the English national football team does not generally play in leagues - so, are you talking about the English Premier League? If so, then many of the players not called Carter, Cooper, Wainwright or other names derived from village trades may be foreign nationals plying their trade in Britain - people who are not claiming to be Brits at all, plastic or otherwise, but who are playing in the Premiership on work permits (or under European freedom of labor laws). Compare the way David Beckham played for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Others, such as Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor, are simply English players (Agbonlahor is a local boy, born in Birmingham). Deciding how many of any given English team are "really English" based on how English their surnames sound to you is a pretty unwise venture...
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:11 AM on December 31, 2012


simplistic nonsense. Deporting illegals from Africa is racist etc¿ But sending back illegals ok if done in the U.S.?
There are Ethiopian Jews who have been air lifted into Israel and are now citizens.


Funnily enough, the link didn't suggest US immigration policy is awesome and not racist. You might be shocked to hear it, but some of us have problems with both. I'm sure the Beta Israel will be thrilled to hear they never experienced racism, too.
posted by hoyland at 11:33 AM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Solotoro - I didn't mean that it has been totally ignored, just that there's a lot going that we don't have good coverage of on a regular basis. Al-Jazeera is unfortunately pretty far from mainstream news coverage in most of the US and, I would imagine, most of Europe as well. But I appreciate that if you look, you can find it!

And, Postroad, Israel was deporting refugees and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa because, among other things, it challenges the "Jewish nature" of Israel. There is a lot of racism behind these actions, just like there is certainly racism behind the immigration debates in the US. Since this article was about images coming out of Africa, that they don't mention the US treatment of undocumented immigrants is not a particularly salient critique.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:39 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great link with links to more links; thanks, litleozy.
posted by mediareport at 12:50 PM on December 31, 2012


Racism is absolutely a huge problem in Israel, but the fact that the writer of this article describes Israelis of African background, including the large and well-known Ethiopian Jewish community, as "More than a few African immigrants subscribe to Jewish beliefs themselves" (not to mention seeming to suggest that all Jewish African immigrants are "converts") doesn't give me great confidence that he knows what he's talking about.
posted by ostro at 2:02 PM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


ChuraChura wrote: Israel was deporting refugees and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa because, among other things, it challenges the "Jewish nature" of Israel.

It is foolish or malicious to suggest that Israel, uniquely, has an immigration policy motivated by some idea of ethnic purity rather than the same financial and demographic concerns as other countries. I should also point out that, Africa being the source of so many refugees, most Western countries regularly deport illegal immigrants from that continent. Why single Israel out, other than the obvious reason: the author doesn't like Jews.

He then goes on to damn the Israelis twice: not only are they racist but they have failed to learn compassion from their own experiences and are therefore morally obtuse. I think most people would recognise the perversity of telling a disabled person that they had a special duty to be accepting; or indeed telling someone from Africa that it is especially wrong for them to discriminate against others. This is sadism dressed up as sanctimony, and it really carries an implied threat: you haven't learned your lesson yet.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:10 PM on January 2, 2013


Netanyahu has said that African migrants undermine Israel's status as Jewish state. There's certainly a risk of poor translation or a statement meant for domestic consumption sounding a lot worse when reported internationally, but I can't really comment there.
posted by hoyland at 6:04 PM on January 2, 2013


Here's what Netanyahu really said, from that very same article: “If we don’t stop the entry, the problem, whose extent now is 60,000 illegal infiltrators, could easily develop to 600,000, which would flood the country and, to a large degree, nullify our character as a Jewish and democratic state”.

He is talking numbers, not race or religion. I'm frankly surprised you read it any other way.


And again: why is expelling illegal immigrants specifically controversial when Israel does it?
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:17 PM on January 2, 2013


I fully admit to having a bias on the issue of immigration, but I find it hard to read any statement about being overrun with immigrants as not about race (or, here, religion). Israel is certainly a pretty small country geographically, so perhaps has a more legitimate concern about "running out of room" than average, but I don't think they currently have resource issues.

As I suggested in a previous comment, I tend to assume people have good reasons for entering a country without papers, so I'm not a fan of rounding them up and calling them 'infiltrators' or 'illegals'. We're talking about Israel because it came up in the article. I can't tell you why the article mentioned Israel. The author thought the picture was good? They'd written about the issue previously (no idea--didn't check)? Italy hasn't done anything really egregious this year? (Can't remember. Italy is where I'd personally look first for mistreating African migrants.) They've got a thing against Israel? They have some personal or professional involvement in the situation (unlikely from the muddled explanation)?
posted by hoyland at 5:44 AM on January 3, 2013


Er. It takes an awful lot of assumption to decide that, based on highlighting a picture from a series of expulsions specifically targeting African undocumented immigrants from Israel, the only explanation is that the author must hate Jews. I can pretty much guarantee that this was not meant as a threat to the existence of the Israeli state. One can criticize Israeli policies without being antisemitic.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:47 PM on January 3, 2013


I fully admit to having a bias on the issue of immigration, but I find it hard to read any statement about being overrun with immigrants as not about race (or, here, religion).

Ye-es, but it's a concern that every country seems to share. I mean, what Western-ish countries have an open immigration policy? Israel has the distinction of not only being the bit of Africa which touches Europe (or vice versa), but of being the nicest place to live in the whole region. If you're trying to leave Africa on foot, you necessarily pass through Israel; and once there you don't have much incentive to leave for one of Israel's neighbours.

Israel is certainly a pretty small country geographically, so perhaps has a more legitimate concern about "running out of room" than average, but I don't think they currently have resource issues.

My understanding is that it relies extensively on desalinated water. I don't know where the energy for that comes from, but I presume that every additional person increases the environmental cost of producing this. Anyway, there is certainly a point at which any country cannot support its population without a drastic fall in living standards, so even a utilitarian argument in favor of open immigration must have a limit somewhere.

Incidentally, with regard to your point about race and religion being at the root of immigration concerns: Israel's raison d'être is to be a refuge for Jews. There is literally no other place in the Middle East where they can live in security. The actual figures on Jewish emigration from Arab countries are mindblowing and tragic: countries which had hundreds of thousands of Jews now have a dozen or two; thousands of years of history were wiped out in a couple of decades. Israelis tend to think that the loss of a Jewish majority would lead to Israel becoming just like its Arab neighbours: a country unfriendly or actively hostile to non-Muslims; and eventually another round of Jewish expulsions. This may or may not be correct, but it's a much more substantial fear than someone from the BNP complaining about the number of black faces in the Tottenham Court Road.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:37 AM on January 4, 2013


« Older The cold hard facts of freezing to death....  |  Apollo Robbins... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments