It’s been a long time coming. The case that was opened in 2007 by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondono against the publishers of Hergé’s ‘Tintin in the Congo’ (published in some languages as ‘Tintin in Africa’) finally got its hearing at the Brussels court yesterday. “The problem is not Hergé’s,” Mondono’s lawyer told the press. “The problem is the commercialisation of a comic manifestly spreading ideas that are based on racial superiority.” The publisher’s lawyer warned a ban would be like opening Pandora’s Box. “What with the anti-Semitic passages in Dickens’s work? Mark Twain? The Bible?” It’s unlikely the judge will forbid the future publishing of the comic outright. Settling for a warning (like the English editions carry these days) sounds more probable. After being postponed several times, the case should come to a close later this year. That’s when Spielberg’s Hollywood version of Tintin will hit the theatres here. Timing is everything.
* That is Henri Dendoncker in the photo. He played Tintin for a publicity stunt back in 1931. During World War II, he was caught spying by the Gestapo but survived. He later moved to Great Britain. And to South Africa in 1960. Never to be heard of since.