At this year’s edition of Roskilde Festival outside Copenhagen in Denmark, guests were invited to join a group of brave, self-declared, male Imperialists from Denmark on an African Expedition, circa 1814. The themed festival camp entitled Afrika-Expeditionen was set up by a group Danish of experts in various scientific fields, such as (French) Security, Medicine, Ethnography, Anthropology, Ornithology, and offered festivalgoers the opportunity to join their journey of ‘scientific’ inquiry into local customs, rituals and dancing. As with all great “explorers,” the Danish Imperialists set out to explore the Dark Continent with a suitably re-drawn and re-named map of Africa.
On Tuesday, July 1st, the brave men of Afrika-Expeditionen hosted a “Lion Hunt.” After several months of exhausting exploration the Danish Imperialists claimed not to have the strength to conquer the beast they have discovered near to their camp. Hence they appealed to Natives for assistance (because we all know that these large feral felines are a real hazard in the Danish countryside…). In exchange, generous bounties will be awarded to the best hunter, followed by a real ‘hunting party’ to ‘hot African beats.’
Continuing the perverse collapse of festival revelry with ‘scientific’ inquiry of the African territories of Gongo and Jongo, Afrika-Expeditionen appeal to Danish saviour complexes and offer festival-goers with humanitarian inclinations a ‘Malaria Party.’ On this night, Danes determined to conquer the dangerous disease plaguing Natives and Imperialists alike, will administer a special medicinal concoction of Gin and Tonic to those in need.
In a Scandinavian context shaped by notions of humanitarianism and multiculturalism, supposedly humorous endeavours such as Africa-Expeditionen sustain claims to colonial innocence and non-participation in colonial projects in Africa. These kinds of ‘artistic’ and ‘creative’ projects close down the possibility of meaningful engagements with historical and present reality of Scandinavian- African relations.