Hat-tip to Sokari (Black Looks) for posting on this Norwegian freakshow: A beauty contest for landmine survivors in Angola, where the contestants are then propped up on display in a fashion magazine showcasing specially designed clothes for amputees!
To say this project is despicable is an understatement, it’s an appalling means of social advocacy, and a reckless display of human and cultural insensitivity. I share the anguish and disgust of the writer (and those have commented to the post).
However, what we need to understand is that this “beauty show” was not designed to mock or be-little the circumstances of the victims, and if the victims were Norwegians it would have been appropriate for their society. The project back-fired because Morten Traavik, a Norwegian artist (no wonder!), and the the originator of the idea, failed to consider the implications of his project.
After reading the 15+ comments to Sokari’s post, I’m somewhat deflated that no one proffered alternative means of “showcasing” the plight of these victims of landmine horror. After all, it is our insensitivity as Africans (some of us), and our inability to proffer creative solutions to our socio-political issues that breath life into projects like Traavik’s. There are artists and musicians in Angola and all over Africa, but I’m yet to hear/see any concerted advocacy efforts from this sector. If we Africans can’t think and work to deal with our issues, then someone else will!
The African landscape is dotted with varieties of human-created mishaps and tragedies, until we wake-up to this reality and find ways and the strength to act individually and in unison, and address these issues, we have no business crying foul.
Yes, there are several existing outlets (blogs/websites) that have taken the “bull by the horn”, and have been addressing several social and political issues on the continent, but these are in the minority. More hands need to be on deck. It appears the days of the NIMBY (Not-In-My-Backyard) mentality over; we must be social catalysts one way or the other.
These are (some) questions we need to answer:
- How can Africans (including blogger)s creatively address our issues?
- How can we build effective coalitions?
- What skill-sets, resources, and infrastructures do we need to generate both internal and external momentum to sustain these efforts?