Monday, April 27, 2009

Again Africa show in German zoo

On May 20th an Africa day is planned in the German Zoo Krefeld. It's the second after the controversial zoo event in 2005. On the zoo’s website an African is portrayed next to a rhinoceros. The byline states, “Africa is guest in the Krefeld zoo. Our rhinoceros Thabo will become one year old in May. For his birthday some attractions awaits visitors.”

In 2005 The African Village festival in the Augsburg zoo sparked a protest by Anti-discrimination groups across Germany and across the world. The festival was seen as blatant racism and appalling cultural insensitivity, because grass huts and "African" culture where nestled between the monkey cage and the Savannah exhibit. African culture was exhibited between animals. But in spite of the protest the festival wasn't cancelled.

Now four years later the Krefeld Zoo is planning a similar event for the birthday of an African Rhinoceros. On the program. Information about the Rhinoceros, an African drum class by a Ghanaian music school, and a presentation of projects for children in Uganda and South Africa. But also the Gorilla Rainforest direct Aid and friends of Krefeld "A garden for Gorilla's” will have a stand at the event.

The Augsburg zoo event in 2005 reminded many of Germanys past. Many where reminded of 19th century exhibits of Africans in Europe's zoos and circuses. The problem, as most critics pointed out, was not that Augsburg was hosting an African cultural festival. Rather, its location inside a zoo, they said, recalls Germany's and Europe's colonialist past - and the not uncommon practice in the 19th and early 20th centuries of exhibiting African natives in zoos or circuses. Furthermore, such a setting encourages visitors to see Africans as a display and emphasizes their "otherness."

It’s sad to see in that in 2009 some German and African-German organisations haven’t learned from protests in 2005. Even the international discussions sparked by the election of an African-American President in US were no reason for the organisations to look for other ways to promote African culture.

By also connecting projects for children in Africa to the birthday of an animal, it seems that change has not come to Germany.

For more blog information:

Menschen Zoo Krefeld - Wieder ein “Afrika Tag” in einem deutschen Zoo!!!


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