Norway to Unveil a Human Zoo Featuring African People as Exhibits

Human Zoo in Brussels 1958
An African child being fed like a monkey in a Human Zoo in Brussels 1958

Honestly, you read some things and you have to lay down and reread it to make sure neither your eyes are playing tricks on you, nor is winter depression making you hallucinate. So next month Norway is supposed to unveil a human zoo that will feature African people as their “animal of choice”. According to their twisted thinking this display of Africans like animals is meant to spark a discussion on racism and colonialism in a post-modern world. This is to bring about Norway’s racist past and celebrate 200 years of the Norwegian constitution and 100 years since the first human zoo in Oslo in 1914. The people behind the idea are: Swedish/Canadian artist Lars Cuzner and Norwegian-Sudanese artist Mohamed Ali Fadlabi. Neo-Nazis and Anti-racist groups have threatened to burn the construction and boycott the celebrations.

Call me old fashioned but what is soo artistic about treating human beings as animals????

Human Zoos are nothing new, especially those exhibiting African people. The ‘Kongolandsbyen’ (Congo Village) was a human zoo in the Frogner Park in Oslo during the World Fair in 1914 which was for the centenary celebrations of the Norwegian constitution. 80 Africans were put on display for those celebrations. (The video below shows people in Congoland human zoo in Oslo)

Below an African family that was on display….

Human Zoo in Oslo's Frogneparken, 1914
A family being displayed at the Human Zoo in Oslo’s Frogneparken in 1914

Way before this one, there was the famous Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman, a Khoikhoi woman from the Eastern Cape of today’s South Africa. She was taken to London and toured around Europe, where she was displayed on freak shows for her “african” features that the European hadn’t seen before. Below an artistic reenactment of a display of Sarah. On Mandela’s request, her remains were repatriated and buried in South Africa, in 2002.

Saartjie Sarah Bartmann Human Zoo in London 1810

Human zoos aren’t peculiar only to Europeans, there was also the famous human zoo in the Bronx in the US where they displayed Africans like Ota Benga. The first time Ota was displayed in New York, the New York Times reported: ‘There were 40,000 visitors to the park on Sunday. Nearly every man, woman and child of this crowd made for the monkey house to see the star attraction in the park – the wild man from Africa.

Ota Benga in a Human Zoo in the Bronx 1906
Ota Benga carrying a chimpanzee in a Human Zoo in the Bronx in 1906

In Germany, the practice of displaying human beings started waaaay before they discovered Africa. They would display albinos and people with rare diseases on the roadside. You would think this is over but in 2005, the Augsburg zoo in Germany and the London zoo in the UK were displaying Africans. In 2007, the Adelaide zoo in Australia also had Africans on display during the day who were allowed to go home at night.

Human zoo germany Völkerschau Stuttgart

Shockingly, I don’t see this ending even if people protest. This is because, although there are some racists who think having Africans in cages eating banana’s is great for their ego; there are also Africans who think it is better to be in a cage in Europe being treated like an animal than be free in Africa. There will always be rich racists to fund such ideas and stupid Africans willing to take part. I bet there is someone reading and wondering where they can find application forms to bring their relatives to take part in the exhibition then find a way to keep them here after the “show”……

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