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Monday, October 6th, 2014

Who profits from the production of blackface?

That time of the year is coming up again and the contested Dutch blackface figure Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) is still with us. Some tried to turn blackface into brownface (only in the Netherlands) while others are still trying to convince us that Black Pete sets a fine example for black people. In any case, anti-blackface protestors

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Another lazy South Africa ad

Africa is a Country has written plenty in the past on problematic advertising, particularly that which rides on racial and sexist stereotypes, and tropes about the African continent. Invariably, the common thread that runs through many of these...

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Heathrow Airport maps the world, and it still belongs to Britain

I was sitting in the tube recently and browsing through one of those free morning papers that no one really reads when I stumbled on a new Heathrow Airport ad with the legend: “Only Heathrow takes Britain further.”...

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

So, an Israeli company made fun of a mentally ill person to promote its product

When Thamsanqa Jantjie first burst onto the international scene he caused a media frenzy. A fraudulent sign language interpreter who swindled his way into Mandela’s funeral and rubbed shoulders with world leaders in an event that was...

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Louis Vuitton’s ‘Out of Africa’ fantasy

Using locations in Africa as backdrops to sell clothes and bags is nothing new – especially bags and clothes that certain class of travellers and outdoorsy people like to call “gear”. As in “stuff necessary to show...

Friday, February 7th, 2014

What’s new? Blackface as carnival costume in the Netherlands

By now it should not come as a surprise that in the Netherlands where dressing in blackface is part of the national tradition (read here and here about our December “traditions”) and comes with no consequences, carnival costumes...

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Delicious Skin Lightener

Skin lighteners in Africa have a long history – so the appearance of Whitenicious skin lightening cream isn’t that surprising. What’s new is that the model used in the advert (heavily photoshopped) not only has a “lighter”...

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Consuming Woolworths’ Tribute to Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela presents a complex, complicated, even contradictory set of public images that have been cycled and recycled in ways that allow many stakeholders to appropriate and mobilise his legacy. Of course corporate entities do not have...

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Blackface: Fresh as the sea and funny, or tired, racist bull?

Imagine our feigned surprise at AIAC when blackface reared its head again, this time in a South African advertisement for the Cape Town Fish Market. The ad (below), posted on Youtube earlier this week, uses air quotes...

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Germany’s African “Big Five”

On the occasion of the country’s first “development day” last week, the German ministry for economic cooperation and development launched a new campaign to educate Germans about what development policy is—or more accurately what the “new German...

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

What has Steve Bantu Biko got to do with partying and spring in the Netherlands?

What has murdered Black Consciousness activist Steve Bantu Biko to do with the beginning of spring in the Netherlands? Don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything in school. Steve Biko has indeed nothing to do with the new...

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

The Happy Dutch Sprinter

Television commercials can be pretty annoying. With the exception of the few that make you laugh. Quite often it’s the good commercials of which you forget what the company is actually trying to sell. However the annoying...

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Woman, object, corpse: Killing women through media

Since Valentine’s Day everyone has been talking about the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, although rarely in those terms. We know that her boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, shot her four times and killed her while she was behind a...

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The Branding of Kaizer Chiefs

On March 9th, the latest edition of the biggest club game in South Africa gets underway. The Soweto Derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs always stokes a great rivalry between fans of the Buccaneers (Pirates) and...

Monday, February 18th, 2013

When Kim Kardashian came to Lagos and “419ed the 419ers”

I was just over a thousand miles away from the action in Freetown, watching my Twitter timeline cascade with commentary as the evening unfolded. Tweets purred with pleasure at the acrobatics segment, and at the godly qualities...

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Consuming Africa (at Christmas Time)

In 2004, the British press reported that the album cover Damien Hirst had designed for Band Aid 20’s re-recording of the 1984 single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” had been rejected by the organizers, for fear it...

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

‘Race jokes’ in South Africa

South African advertising is known for its eagerness for political commentary; very little ends up being off-limits. Blink Stefanus, or BS Beer (the double meaning for ‘bullshit’ being an obvious choice) is no exception. In September this year the...

Friday, November 16th, 2012

It’s Africans’ turn to help Norwegians

Who ever said Norwegians don’t have a sense of humor? Just in time for the holidays, a Norwegian group calling itself Radi-Aid has launched an appeal to ship radiators from Africa to Norway. Their cause is the...

Monday, October 29th, 2012

McDonald’s Baobab Tree

These days, it’s not uncommon to see Western fast food chains alongside local favorites in the post-colony. Lagos, for example, has its Nigerian fast food chains (Mr. Biggs, Chicken Republic, etcetera) but also a brand-new, shiny KFC...

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

File Under No Comment: ‘Send Me To Africa’

With a click of the button… (a contest sponsored by sponsors). It’s an empty landscape. With pyramids.

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Nando’s Grilled Chicken Politics

I am writing this from Cape Town, South Africa, where it took me some time to load the 53 second Youtube video of the latest Nando’s ad (embedded at the end of this paragraph), so I am...

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Vogue Italia’s “Rebranding Africa” disaster

Everybody’s trying to rebrand Africa, and it isn’t going so well. Vogue Italia’s latest issue — boosted by great billowing gusts of editorial hot air from both the New York Times and the Guardian — is called...

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

#Hashtag Politics

Boima blogged here recently about UNICEF’s efforts to raise awareness about the drought in the Sahel; what he described as “a step in the right direction towards facilitating genuine empathy, and away from the sensationalistic portrayals that...

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

First as tragedy, then as farce

What is it with the conviction, that you can save yourself and the world by shopping? Last week the tony Canadian chain, Holt Renfrew, began selling “the bag that can change the world.” For just $50, consumers...

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The geo-branding war

Geo-branding is a serious thing. It is particularly serious when people from other geographic areas decide to brand your geographical area and the people in it, the way they see fit and the way that fits their...

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

The magazine as Tumblr

Globetrotter is one of those vaguely defined, international, cosmopolitan culture and fashion magazines. With connections to Chicago, Lagos, and Jakarta, the magazine consists of an eclectic pastiche of commentary on various international trends organized into four sections: Art/Design,...

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

The ‘African Men–Hollywood stereotypes’ video, positive news and ‘Brand Africa’

As much as I tried, I can’t seem to like the new video by San Francisco-based NGO Mama Hope. Four young Kenyans sit on a bench talking through the worst stereotypical depictions of African men in Hollywood...

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Coke and cynicism

I won’t bother to unpack this commercial, but this is exhibit A for the case against uncritical boosterism and identity politics. Coca Cola Kenya hijacks “the Africa is booming” discourse to sell more soft drinks. Here’s their cynical...

Friday, March 30th, 2012

French Tropicalism

At the occasion of the recent publication of Senegalese philosopher Souleymane Bachir Diagne’s book ‘African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson and the Idea of Negritude’ (originally published in French in 2007) and listening to this interview where...

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

The Invisible Christians of #Kony2012

In the last few days every journalist (or outraged blogger) covering #Kony2012 has been so busy reporting on what the bloggers have been saying and putting together salad after salad of African (and therefore authentic, true etc)...

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