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Subj: This is actually a common failing for non-Africans of all ethnicities...
Posted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 at 06:14:30 pm EDT (Viewed 7 times)
Reply Subj: Really, Really
Posted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 at 01:26:28 am EDT (Viewed 6 times)
> > > I could swear I heard that Klaw being Dutch was one of the changes Hudlin made. Oh well. Thanks for the correction.
> > Hudlin made him not-Dutch -- Belgian, in fact, presumably to flag up the Belgian colonization of Africa in the real world.
> "Presumably" being the operative word, since Hudlin's depiction of Belgium's involvement in Africa, specifically South Africa, was seriously inaccurate.
> To emphasize one point, South African Boers were largely Dutch, so a Dutch Klaw would have been consistent with that portrayal. Making his ancestors from Belgium, instead, makes the character's backstory less historically accurate, not more.
There's a real tendency to treat "Africa" in populart culture as one homogeneous place with one homogeneous culture...and, in more enlightened examples, this weird "Egypt" place stuck on the northeast corner.
Look at all of those "African" flags, a concept almost as absurd as an "Asia" flag. Since -- thanks mainly* to Conrad -- the Belgian Congo is for many people the emblem of the colonization of Africa, I felt safe in my presumption that he made Klaw Belgian rather than the potentially more clever Dutch because the Belgian colonization is canonized as the worst in a certain sense.**
* Mainly these days; Conrad himself was, of course, sending up the rather hypocritical banner of the various other European countries that had carved up the continent as they roundly condemned. A reader in his own time would have caught this, especially since Marlowe flags it up in his "dark places of the Earth" monologue about the British and the Romans early on. Unfortunately, even for most readers today, Conrad's somewhat ironized historical context is lost, while a vague cross-cultural memory that King Leopold was extra-awful in Africa remains.
** Why isn't the influenc eof the Dutch similarly treated? Because the Boers didn't think of themselves as Dutch and didn't identify with the Netherlands in terms of culture or citizenship. They speak/spoke a dialect of Dutch called Afrikaans and insisted/insist on being called "Afrikaners," i.e., Africans. They don't see themselves as colonizers, but as residents. But then, that's the difference between settler colonies and the other sorts. Americans and Canadians born in those countries tended to think of themselves as natives rather than as the descendants of colonizers as well even while they were technically British citizens...and still engaged in fighting the geninely native tribes.
- Omar Karindu
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