UPDATED: The internets have been rightly outraged at a white couple, “Dave and Chantal,” who decided on a “colonial” (and Apartheid) theme at their wedding in South Africa complete with an all-black wait staff in red fezzes. Like it was a scene out of the film “Out of Africa.” (Turns out the happy couple asked for a recreation of the film. Serious.) The wedding was held in Mpumalanga province on the border with Mozambique. The wedding organizers got the props–which included “antique travel chests, clocks, globes and binoculars and an awesome Zebra skin”–from a “prop house” in the capital Pretoria. This kind of thing which is apparently the in-thing (i.e. sold as “tradition” and “nostalgia” by events companies and venues), would have passed unnoticed, but for the internets. The couple or their photographer felt pleased enough to post the pictures on a photography site. Then it was spotted by the American blog Jezebel (part of the Gawker empire). Once it became viral (and the couple their photographer and wedding planner were ridiculed) some of the photos (i.e. those with blacks in subservient positions or white people hamming it up in pith helmets) have been taken down. Here’s a link to the “cleaned-up” cache-page since the page has been deleted. Luckily for us screen shots of the pictures exist. And the venue still has pictures of guests in pith helmets play acting shoot outs on its website. (see some of the pictures below).

Of course, not surprisingly, some white South Africans are defending the couple. Although one commenter to the Jezebel post did write the truth: “Most white folks’ weddings in [South Africa] are colonial not by design, but by default.”

Which is why we’re surprised so few are asking–as RK points out in a comment on this post below–what makes venues like the Cow Shed (where the wedding was held and events company Pollination, think it is okay to throw colonial/Apartheid throwback weddings for white South African and European couples.

BTW, the Cow Shed has since issued a lame press statement to still defend its decision to host the party.

At least they can’t blame Julius Malema for this.

Above and below are some of the offensive photos. Then following the photos, at the bottom end of this post, see commentary from Neelika.

More from the big blogs, here and here.

Neelika Jayarwadane adds:

First, the pith helmets, the rolling amber whiskey, the monogrammed blue sweaters: it’s like a Tommy Hilfiger/ Ralph Lauren advert for Fall-wear, in the conservative chic for which these brands are known. But allow me a little snark here: who wears a blue sweater, no matter how finely monogrammed, to a proper wedding? I see it’s all very shack-chic-themed, with corrugated walls and chandeliers, but still, lovey.

Second, Hilfiger and Lauren get their imagery from the fantasia of Africa created by Hemingway and Hollywood: Baronness von Blixen, channelled by Meryl Streep in Out of Africa, to be more precise. There, one can marry that lovely hodgepodge of elements evoking a magical time when we just didn’t know to be embarrassed by our colonial selves: hunting, whiskey, fine food served on Limoges china, and most importantly, the silent, disappeared bodies of the ‘service’ – seen here in the full glory of their outlandish and out-of-place carmine fezes (a nod to East African Muslim traditions?). When modern South Africans want to revert to the safety of the good ole days, when whites were whites and servants were marked by uniforms and ridiculous headgear, apparently they turn to ’80s Hollywood for their references.

Further Reading

No more caricatures

Engaging seriously with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life could help us understand how South Africa got where it is and where it’s going.