The Hall of Shame

Before Boima rides us out this year with West Africa’s best dance tunes, we couldn’t resist including a post with some of the lowlights of 2011.

Colonial Themed Weddings
New South Africans can’t help themselves. The white couple, “Dave and Chantal,” who thought a “colonial” (and Apartheid) theme at their wedding in South Africa complete with an all-black waiter staff in red fezes would be cool. Read our account and the comments here. And while we’re on the subject of the rainbow nation, what about the white guy who posed with a gun in hand while kneeling over what appears to be a lifeless black child in South Africa like he killed an animal on a hunt. To make things better, he claimed he got “permission” from the parents of the child, who happened to work on his friend’s farm. Yeh, it’s like the new South Africa down on the farm. Then there are people who come up with ad campaigns like this one. This is of course all Julius Malema’s fault.

The DSK-Diallo Coverage
The DSK/Diallo case coverage, particularly in the New York Post, and sometimes the New York Times (when it gleefully reported defense leaks) and definitely the French media, which very nonchalantly reported the details of Diallo’s identity long before she came out to do the interview and described her as “not very seductive”/unattractive.

Nicholas Kristof
Because he can’t help himself. Elliot Ross has described Kristof as “probably the most hardline fetishist of the African body in pain” on this blog. Two examples from 2011: here and here. And here is a bonus link where Kristof guest stars with George Clooney. No he is not playing the romantic lead.

The Nude Revolution in Egyptian
Basically everyone involved in that affair, including journalists who reported on it.

Condé Nast Traveler and CNN


The luxury travel magazine included Libya as a holiday destination in its April edition–yes, months into the Libyan civil war — among its 15 Best Places to See Right Now. The 250-word blurb proclaims “a door long shut is open again,” and ends with a recommendation to fly Lufthansa from New York’s JFK via Frankfurt to Tripoli, which has since been shrouded in a NATO-imposed no-fly zone. They did the same with Egypt href=”” target=”_blank”>in their February issue. Then there’s CNN href=”!/NOWLebanonBlog/status/105620813654405120″ target=”_blank”>confusing Libya with Lebanon. But of course Libya is in the Middle East, right.

Rapper 50 Cent
He wants to stop child hunger in Africa while helping the sagging sales of his energy drink.

The Mandela Grandchildren
Three of Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren are getting their own reality TV show. Word is it will also be available on US cable television. One journalist likens the show to something resembling “the Kennedys, with a dash of the Kardashians.” I can’t even imagine what that means.

Parachute Journalism
Time Magazine’s “correspondent for West Africa,” for her parachute journalism on Foreign Policy’s website about political developments in South Africa. First read her opinion piece and then read Jonathan Faull’s takedown of Leigh on AIAC here.

Some foreign correspondents and celebrities who have to pose with African children in photographs because the local adults don’t want to.

Finally, to those few commenters to this blog who feel compelled to remind us that Africa is not a country: we appreciate you.



Sean Jacobs

Also goes by Hasan Wazan. Life President.

  1. Thanks for a great mag!

    You could add to the Libya travel piece by mentioning all the gap-year wannabes who showed up in Libya funded by bank of mum & dad & who just added to the chaos…….. War-porn tourism joins slum-porn tourism….

  2. I think I’m learning something here. I recently went to a South African, shanty town through Hope Worldwide. And we gave some money to some families in need there and spent time with a beautiful local woman who owned a bed & breakfast there. We did film the time we shared, because it was so amazing, eye-opening and unique for all of us, we also took pictures with the kids, one of them is my Facebook profile pic right now actually. To an African person, am I (an African-American) exploiting these kids, the African community or the countries image? Thoughts are appreciated.

    1. Toss the coin for a second. A well-meaning traveler arrives in your neighborhood and does some good things — gives money to families in need and spend time with a woman that owns a bed and breakfast. How/what would you think about this person taking footage of her time there that includes your children (you might not have been asked for permission to take the children’s photos) and then have these pictures posted for people to gawk at? I am an African person who lives in the west and I’m constantly surprised at the double standards at play when I see how protective people here are of their children’s images.

      1. Aaaahh. I think I understand your point of view better now. Thanks for the response.

        We did ask if it was ok to film & take pictures. I think where the point of misunderstanding can be, is when the visitor is asked if they would take time to visit the shanty towns and see first hand the hardships the Africans there face, it felt like we (as visitors) had a significant purpose for being there, most of the people were excited that we were documenting it. (however, some were seemingly annoyed or at the least indifferent). A local organization from that community even pre-arranged a performance for us, knowing we were coming. (So we were welcomed guest.) But I think anyone can also understand how anywhere someone goes during travel, if you’ve never done that particular experience, whether a live concert in Europe, seeing broad street in Manhattan, or traditional Japanese talking in their language in Tokyo, one might be inclined to film it or take pictures. And then one might also be inclined to post it up, so their other friends can see what they’ve experienced.

        After having this dialog, it seems that the bone of contention is primarily superiority complexes, that allow people to infringe on the rights of others, simply because they feel superior to them. Like when, whites pat my afro, without asking, or when rich people assume I’m “the help” if I’m at an airport or a store. If that is the reason, its offensive to Africans, I TOTALLY understand.

    2. @ Speech
      Being an African who has lived in both African and western societies,I totally understand this “situation”. People in Nigeria(for example) won’t find it weird to pose for a picture or be a part of a film/video footage by a foreign person. The truth is we tend to accomodate such things maybe due to our less rigid societal differences or some other factor. I mean,I do the same thing too when I visit inner regions of my country of origin(Nigeria). What I’m driving at is its neither here or there,some may like it,others may not. Maybe a fine line should be drawn? well its up to the individual.
      Lastly I know what its like to be the token black friend(I live in French Canada)
      Also thanks for your music..I grew up on AD..Tennessee/Mr Wendall et al

      1. Thanks much. I so love Africa. And I one day hope to spend a lot more time there. I appreciate the response. Check our website too, to know about new tours, music and vibes.

  3. As a great admirer of the mission of Africa is not a country, I find it a bit disappointing it is basically focusing on two small corners of the continent. South Africa and the Arab Spring countries. But maybe it’s medias fault.

  4. Re Speech (Arrested Development)
    My experience is that tour operators (in SE Asia anyway) include the Visit to A Place of Poverty as a well-meant opportunity to prick the Western conscience.
    Africa is not a country, and there are many achievements to celebrate throughout its diverse nations, but it could use a lot more help from the international community than it gets. So, when you visit, if you are a donor, they will assume you want to see how your money makes a difference. If you’re not a donor, they will want you to be so they show you how your money could make a difference if you become one.
    The trouble is that visitor feels they have no option but to visit and are then in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t engage in the situation as expected. No matter how well-meaning the visit might be, there is no way that a drop-in visitor from the affluent West can engage in this kind of situation with adequate respect for the people they visit. On the other hand, if you choose not to go, you are wilfully turning a blind eye to the inquities of the global economy.
    I confronted this in Cambodia, see and didn’t find a way to react to it with sufficient respect until
    Good will counts for a lot, but I think we have to accept that sometimes, we will inevitably offend. And can only apologise when we do.

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