Africa: The Depiction of Africa Through The Eyes of Westerners and Africans

Over the years the depiction of the African continent and Culture in western society has always been fairly insensitive. From the beginning of western European colonization in the 1800’s to the more current times. Africa is usually depicted as being an uncivilized culture, full of evil witchcraft, child armies, evil dictators, blood diamonds, the white man’s burden and white savior complex, and absolutely dangerous. practically all the negatives aspects to come out of Africa rather than any of the positives.

One example comes from an Episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the third episode of the the first season of the show titled: Code of Honor. Although not exactly taking place in Africa since Star Trek takes place in space in the far distant future the episode introduces an extraterrestrial humanoid race called the Ligonians. which resemble African and African culture. In the episode the crew of the Enterprise-D are sent to acquire a vaccine from the planet Ligon 2, the  Ligonian leader takes an attraction to Lieutenant Natasha Yar and abducts her. The issue is not with Lieutenant Yar’s abduction rather the depiction of Ligonians being depicted as tribal African with violent mating rituals and following a misogynistic code of honor. The episode received negative reviews and is regarded as the worst episode in the entire Star Trek franchise to even which TNG cast member Jonathan Frakes referring it as a “racist piece of shit.”

Another Example comes from the TinTin comic TinTin In The Congo by Belgian cartoonist Georges ‘Herge’ Remi. The comic follows TinTin and his beloved dog Snowy on a trip to the Congo and meet a bunch of stereotypes and save the day. Aside of that, TinTin in the comic is seen upsetting the African wildlife such as shooting 15 Antelopes on accident, shooting a Chimpanzee and skinning it, shooting a snake, cutting open a snake, ; he even drills into a Rhino planting a stick of dynamite killing it. TinTin even harasses some carnivorous Felines. Although how are the people like? The Congo natives in the comic are portrayed the same way other late 19th century and early 20th century black people are represented: pitch black dark skin with enlarged lips, uncivilized, and subservient to the white man, and unintelligent. Then again this comic was a product of its time and Colonialism were more acceptable in those times.

Tram 83 however, unlike most other works of fiction regarding Africa as its main setting isn’t written by westerner instead its written by an African born Writer (Fiston Mwanza Mujila) meaning readers can have a much better perspective of Africa. Tram 83 depicts a more accurate representation of the continent than previous works mentioned. Although one of the previous title Utopia read in class, written by another African writer; Utopia was set in a more fictitious setting with it being set in the then near distant future. While with Tram 83 is set in a more contemporary setting.

In Tram 83, Mujila features real problem in the Democratic Republic of Congo such as corruption, Prostitution, poverty, and a bleak state of Africa. For example in (182) a quote in the novel states that “poverty is hereditary just like power, stupidity, hemorrhoids.”  meaning that poverty passes to on generation to generation. In the novel when it comes to leadership, the novel seems to refer the novel’s leader as the dissident General who in (115) didn’t allow for running water for the past two weeks and seems not to be good at his job. Overall everything is meant be be bleak while having some rhythm.


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