Colonial Fantasies

Just a sample: A "Heart of Darkness"-themed ship, Tarzan in South Africa and a travelogue on the Congo River.

DeWet Du Toit, the white South African living out a Hollywood-fantasy as a "real-life Tarzan" (Flickr).

The arts and culture site, Blackbookmag.com, reports that two British artists have built a “Heart of Darkness”-themed hotel in the shape of a steamboat on the roof of a Thames River arts center in London. It is named Roi des Belges (King of the Belgians). They charge between 120 and 185 pounds for singles or couples per night to stay in the hotel. “Inside, the cozy paddle steamboat is lined with timber, vintage books, and props that echo details from Conrad’s works, such as maps of Africa.”

Roi des Belges on the Thames.

Two days ago, The Guardian (of all publications) put up a travel piece with this introduction: “I was alone in the middle of deepest, darkest Congo. Worse still, I was being chased by eight angry tribesmen in two dugout canoes – and they were gaining on me.” We figured it must be a joke.

Then there’s DeWet Du Toit, who left South Africa to work as a security guard in Manchester, and returned to George, a coastal town in the Western Cape region of South Africa (where else?), where he lives out his fantasy as ‘the real Tarzan’, complete with promotional video, animals, black helpers and friendly news coverage (he wants to break into Hollywood like Charlize Theron and District 9). It is not the 1950s anywhere.

Further Reading

Apartheid nostalgia

South Africans agree that redistribution and economic security are urgent. But will they arrive via a deepening of democracy and public accountability, or a return to authoritarianism?