Aug 6, 2009

schlingensief (not) saving africa

A girl called Britta sent me some links yesterday, concerning Christoph Schlingensief's plans to build a festspielhaus in Africa (he thinks of Burkina Faso or Mozambique). Schlingensief's enterprise reminded Esther Slevogt of of one of her uncles who served as a colonial official in a German colony (he lived to an old age, that very uncle). When being carried through the bush in a sedan by some natives, this relative of Ms. Slevogt used to recite Goethe. and other German classics to the "uncivilised". I am sure, the palanquin looked like that:So she started a discussion on the blog of, where, among respondents' comments, one can find all the arguments refering to "AFRICA" from a European point of view: "why bring culture there instead of something to eat and settle their silly ethnic conflicts?"; "stop development aid and start fair trade instead!"; "help them to help themselves!"; "we love geldof and madonna!"; "we hate madonna and bono, and we are critical about geldof" and so on, hundreds of posts. I will not take sides (it was so easy to be pc back in the days when I was raised and it is so hard nowadays). Only one question: what part of Africa are you talking about? You're talking about the states Hillary is visiting right now? You are talking about Obama? Nigeria? Mozambique? I got the impression of Mr. Schlingensief being very conscious about the difference of his idea of Africa and some specific reality one could face on the African continent. Beside that, the discussion made clear to me again, that, with all the fuzz about what we could do for Africa, all we do is to foster our image of a helpless continent. Like Madonna, who fortunately has faced severe problems when trying to "raise Malawi". As Lara Stepanovic has pointed out rigthly on her blog, what would we think about Youssou N'Dour adopting a German orphan, his photograph on Times magazine headed "Raising Germany"?
Now, all of that simply reminded me of an article by Uzodinma Iweala in the Washington Post and of Damisa Moyo. Waiting for comments on that one. Me, I am taking sides for Iweala.

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