July 13, 2007
Tintin and the Congo
There is something of a kerfluffle in the UK over the publication of Tintin and the Congo: the Commission for Racial Equality is somewhat upset over the 1930's depictions of the inhabitants of the country as grinning picanninies. I can see their point too, although wouldn't go so far as to advocate book banning, either forced or voluntary.
But as a small lesson in quite how far the UK has come, or if you prefer, how far other places might not yet have done, have a look at this.
That the packaging for a sweet (candy to Americans) available in every supermarket in Portugal. They're actually made in Spain so I assume they're all over that country too. They are peanuts covered in chocolate: think peanut M&Ms without the candy shell. And yes, the white ones are indeed white chocolate.
The name? Conguitos.
There are some puzzles you can play here on their website.
You can even download their song (something I admit I haven't had the courage to do).
YOU WILL RECOGNISE THEM... BY THEIR FACE: ONLY CONGUITOS HAVE THE CONGUITO FACE.
To be honest, I simply cannot wait for their international expansion plans. When comparing what will happen with the Tintin thing all that really comes to mind is visions of storms and teacups.
Anyone want to let the CRE know about this?
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Hmmm.. For people of African descent, this is probably an example of a collective mirror stage a la Jacques Lacan.
The Congo is also noteworthy because of the distinctive culture and habits of the Congolese people and their society. This just adds to the sense of 'otherness'. I don't have any doubt that they had the most advanced civilisation on Earth - with contentment and freedom from war - before those terrible things that happened there. A rude and shocking awakening.
The CRE are being irresponsible in attempting to suppress comic book depictions and charicatures that may be useful as a form historical and anthropological record.
Posted by: Opinionated | Jul 13, 2007 12:18:42 PM
There's an ice cream in Germany called "Nogger".
Posted by: timmyhawk | Jul 13, 2007 1:20:19 PM
sorry I meant 'caricatures' not 'charicatures'
Posted by: Opinionated | Jul 13, 2007 1:36:31 PM
I get the impression that the CRE as a corporate body are basically being fairly sensible to suggest it's not a good idea for a bookshop to carry this in the children's section (but rather in the adult section as an anthropological/cultural thing). AIUI, the person who said it should be banned altogether was just an angry junior PR person shooting their mouth off...
Posted by: john b | Jul 13, 2007 2:16:58 PM