africans in mud houses doing african things


Bizarre. I got a message on LinkedIn from an employee at Viotel Ltd who requested my marketing assistance on a project. I will repost the message here simply because, as dramatic as my writing may be, it does not equal the level of drama proposed in this endeavor (emphases all mine).

"...As part of our social community development and responsibility we are doing a reality show entitled: 'Royalty Africa Culture Quest'. The show would feature 20-30 african males and females from all over the world who would be camped in the RoyaltyAfrica village of beautiful mud houses and thatched roofs (the typical african environment way back).

The contestants/housemates would engage in different tasks including cultural dances of the various african kingdoms, stage drama, african stories, african poetry and other mental tasks to test their personality and leadership qualities.

At the end of eight (8) weeks the male and female winners will be crowned Royalty African King and Queen and they will walk away with some cash prizes and become Royalty Africa Ambassadors. They will be chosen by a council of village elders and by TV viewer votes. We are seeking sponsors and partnerships worldwide so that this program will air in the Americas, Asia and Europe."

Will we see the sunset over palm trees? Baby goats roaming the village? As much as I often think that Hollywood/Western audiences/media entities promote misconceptions about Africa and Africans, I think that some Africans are working twice as hard. As far as reality shows go, I don't think I've ever heard of a bigger train wreck.

I'd rather watch Eddie Murphy, in Coming to America, pat his pet elephant Babar in a fake jungle than this African "cultural" fete. I'd rather watch a blackened Kerry Washington fake a South African accent while cheating on Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) with his physician lackey.

I could go on. Point is, all of these things are far less offensive than watching a group of cosmopolitan Africans "pretend" to live in the bush on television for a global audience. My issue is not so much with the would-be contestants as the African producers who conceived of it.

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  1. "... as part of OUR social community development and responsibility" for what? For who? How does producing a show of Africans living in mud houses and engaging in "cultural dances of the various African kingdoms..." contribute to the alleviation of poverty, improved access to potable drinking water, or better educational prospects for many of Africa's children?

    I'm at once repulsed and angry with these producers! Who are they trying to please? Western audiences or themselves? Who do they think they are?

    As much as I HATE the idea for this reality show and am absolutely put off by these producers, I would be even more upset with those who offer themselves up to be used as caricatures to further the distorted view of Africa in Western eyes.


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