Sunday 21 November 2010

Maison Tropicale - Corrupt enterprise

Corrupt enterprise

The audience might have worn a wry smile when the camera focused on an interview with one of the top government officials in Congo Brazzaville.

He completely denied knowledge of the removal of the Maison Tropicale prototypes and offered that he only really learnt of their disappearance and the circumstance around the situation at the interview.

It was not convincing, silver had definitely crossed palms for the removal of that structure beyond the payment that was made to the landlady who used the paltry sum she made compared to current market value of the prototype to become a powerful slum landlord developing all the land surrounding the original prototype foundations.

In Niamey, the people seemed to have a lesser claim to the prototype and simply felt powerless in preventing their monument from being dismantled and carried away.

Powerless people

In the words of that neighbor, she said, “Poor people have no power”. This again represents the helplessness of the ordinary African in exacting their rights and getting justice.

In age-old colonial-speak, they gave us the Bible and took our land; in this case, they offered a few bronze coins for the prototypes and sold them for truckloads of gold.

The money they paid would have smoothed the bureaucratic hurdles that would have impeded the opportunities to take the prototypes out of the countries with the blessing of government officials who were supposed to hold African treasures in trust for the people and ensure they are not pilfered for personal profit of as it were art thieves.

The need for reeducation

However, without a strong sense of ownership and an appreciation of heritage very little can be done to generate the activism that would militate against African treasures being stolen out of African for the business enterprise of thieves.

There is a reeducation context to this which should include embracing our colonialist past and what came with it with the greater prospects of proud African history open to tourism and the recognition of our culture in situ.

La Maison Tropicale Series

Maison Tropicale film in Amsterdam

Deconstructing Maison Tropicale - Introduction

Maison Tropicale - Ownership

Maison Tropicale - Heritage

Maison Tropicale - Corrupt enterprise

Maison Tropicale - Grand Projects

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