Monthly Archives: January 2011

Random Tourism: Down into the belly of the BEAST


There are two kinds of tourists in this world. Those that transform a holiday into a tightly run, neatly scheduled process- researching on the destination months in advance, downloading maps and obsessing over articles offering ‘top ten things to do in Shithole X’ and basically going at it with the maniacal energy most of us reserve for excel sheets and over bearing bosses.

Then there are those who wake up one day and are  lucid only long enough to book a ticket and/or accommodation.

I fall squarely into the latter category.

And, after a few mishaps involving a soul destroying attempt at securing a UK visa to go on a school trip followed by a resounding F*ck you from the Great Britain’s outsourced visa services, I paused only long enough to book a train ticket to Brussels.

Why? So that I could soothe my wounded ego with copious amounts of high quality beer. That’s why.

But the thing about travelling off the seat of your pants is that though you never really know what you will get, it usually turns into an alcohol soaked week long party that you need another week to recover from, with a few museums thrown in just to feel cultured.

So this time my ‘intellectual enrichment’ took a detour from all the ancient and un-understandable paintings by people who’s names I can’t pronounce, right to the Museum of Central Africa in Brussels.

Some people know that the Democratic Republic of Congo was born out of King Leopold’s disastrous attempt to transform Belgium from a little respected backwater country to a super nation that could pull punches with the big boys- France, Germany and the United Kingdom, thus leading to the Scramble for Africa adventures and today’s ‘state of affairs’.

It made perfect sense, then, to go to the source as I waited for sunset and the fulfillment of my real agenda in Belgium.

My findings are documented below:

formerly a castle, and then a propaganda machine to peddle 'Africans are inferior' theories

I went to visit, but only in an Ironic way…and most of the pictures I took can’t really use anywhere else. Stick with me and you will soon find out why.

 

Behold, the kind and generous King Leopold, extending his loving arms to accept nubile little African savages into his generous civilized hands. Any likeness to our Lord and savior Jesus Christ is purely coincidental.

If you have ever been to the Nairobi National ‘Museum’, no doubt you have been subjected to the horrors below. There is something fundamentally frightening about dead animals arranged in a ‘realistic’ setting for viewing pleasure, no?

Stuffed animals with creepy glass eyes: Banished to an eternity of shrieking, snotty nosed school children

And, in case you were wondering why our museums are so pathetically devoid of anything remotely attractive or original, wonder no more….and thank good old King L.

Musical instruments

cute tapestry

Bag I could carry today

And then there was this stuff…

 

Look kids, African worms- and yes, these are just the babies...

Some random fish that look suspiciously like omena..

Why????

And….

 

Dear Mom, this is why I will never ever have a girlfriend. Your virgin son, insect collector and arranger

I also could not help but notice the keen eye that sculptors have to detail:

 

This guy knew his subjects VERY well


And on to more sensitive matters…

 

Ladies and gentlemen, how to sign away your sovereignty and dignity with a simple X

Congolese heroes who all died...no mysteries here, no conspiracy, just pure Bad 'Luck''

Not forgetting, Stanley’s pet African

 

 

Just in case you thought I was making it up

Oooooh, and not forgetting me and my giraffe moment. Ever been so close to one?

My tour having been complete, I leave you with a picture to remind you that, no, racism is a figment of your imagination.

 

eeerr....no... I left my pet leopard at home today

 

yummy, non stereotype propagating chocolate

Advertisements