Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Zoo story: opening tomorrow

An open letter about a disturbing exhibit in a German zoo, June 9-July 12:

May 30, 2005
STOP the exhibition of AFRICANS in the Augsburg ZOO
Send your protest letters to the adresses listed below!

From: Norbert Finzsch

I am a German scholar of African American History and member of H-Net Afro-Am.

Today I would like to direct your attention to something that is going on in Germany which, in my opinion, requires the consideration of the international scholarly community.

It is with utmost indignation that the African German community has taken notice of the plans to open an "African Village" within the zoo of Augsburg, Germany. The opening of this exhibit is scheduled for July 9 - July 12. 2005.

"Artisans, silversmiths, basket makers and traditional hairdressers are situated in an unique African steppe landscape" according to the leaflets handed out by the organizers of the show. The conveners obviously are oblivious of the fact that exhibits like the one planned in Augsburg are organized within the German tradition of racist "ethnographic shows" (Völkerschauen).

more . . .

Subscribers to the Afro-Am list (including me) at first thought this had to be an urban legend. And then one writes: "When hundreds of thousands may have died in Darfur and millions are at risk; when 10,000,000 Africans have died as the result of the diamond wars in just four countries (Angola, Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone) in the past ten years; when the ecological deterioration of the island of Hispaniola has caused first Haitians, and now Dominicans to drown trying to get to anyplace where they can work or eat: why is our priority of the day this clown show in Germany?"

To which the editor responds, "Rather than see these as alternative issues, maybe we can reflect on all of this as part of the new 'zeitgeist.'"

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