Africa Museum creating ethics code after dress-up party blunder
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Africa Museum creating ethics code after dress-up party blunder

An event held near the museum encouraged guests to come dressed in "African style." Credit: Thé Dansant-Jelle Dreese/Facebook

The Africa Museum is working on an ethical code to ensure future events portray the African continent respectfully, after a dress-up party near the grounds of the museum caused outrage among observers.

An event organised by Thé Dansant in the park around the museum encouraged guests to come dressed up in an “African Style,” and saw attendants don African prints, fake leopardskin and even a man wear blackface.

The event was sharply criticised by a collective called Café Congo, whose work focuses on Congo-Belgium relations.

“The fact that a man was walking around with a face painted black is simply stupid. We also felt that the organizers’ call for appropriate African clothing was a bit too far,” museum director Guido Gryseels said, according to Bruzz.

Café-Congo shared screenshots of social media photos of the man wearing blackface which appear to have been since deleted.

Additional photos of the event in the organisers’ library show people dressed in colourful prints, and wearing other types of bright-coloured facepaint.

The event’s setting was also decorated with skulls on sticks as well as a poster of a giraffe with a setting sun in the background.

“It is the cliché image of ‘Africa has nature and we have culture’,” Gryseels said.

As a result, the director is now preparing an ethics code for all who wish to hold events in or around museum grounds in the future.

The museum itself underwent a lengthy revamp last year in order to portray the African continent in a different, more contemporary light, according to its director.

“We want to make permission for external activities in the museum or park dependent on respectful treatment of the African continent in the future, “Gryseels said.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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