MUZUNGU

 

Collaboration with Dania Weiner

Bezalel MFA, June 2017

Photo: Noa Yafe

This boutique shop celebrates our collective African memories. Our hand made goods consists of a genealogical study within ourselves of the images that created our notion of what is Africa: the touristic images of the grate wild savanna were blended with the images of two terrifying events that were captured by others and were embedded in us.

The first event is the Westgate mall terror attack, which took place on September 21 2013. One of the most popular malls in Nairobi, and perhaps the most upscale, was the unfortunate location for a terror attack that took the lives of 67 people, injuring more than 175. At least four Al-Shabaab militants stormed the Israeli owned mall on a Saturday, armed with firearms and possibly hand grenades, killing and taking hostages. They fired through the parking lot, the mall and a cooking competition for children. A great deal of the shooting was recorded by security cameras.

The attack lasted around 48 hours and the mall was finally declared clear on September 24, three days after the attack started. At some point towards the end of this horrifying event, the Kenyan army fired a rocket into the mall, which collapsed a major part of it.

It has been claimed, unofficially, that throughout this period of time and after the hostages were already freed or declared dead, an act of looting of the shops was carried out by the security armed forces.

It has also been claimed that the rocket fired at the mall towards the end of this siege, might have been used to cover up evident for this act.

 

The second event is the suicide of the award winner Pulitzer Prize photojournalist Kevin Carter in July 1994.

Carter won his prize earlier in 1994, for a photo depicting a starved Sudanese girl stalked by a vulture, a truly iconic image that became a symbol for African starvation. `This image raised a personal critique against Carter, regarding his utilization of the situation. Carter replied that it took him 20 minutes to shoot the picture, and at some point the vulture arrived at the scene. His explanation of the situation falsified the story as told by the award committee.

Kevin Carter was a white South African photojournalist and member of the Bang-Bang Club – a group of four photographers that roamed through Africa’s disaster zones, taking pictures of conflicts and selling them to the news agencies. In April 1994, Carter’s colleague and best friend Ken Oosterbroek was shot and killed while taking pictures of a conflict.

Kevin Carter was also the first to photograph ‘necklacing’, a form of execution in which a tire is placed on a person’s neck, filled with oil or gasoline and torched. Though shocked and appalled by these acts, he believed there was an impact on viewers that made it worthwhile.  

Carter died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of 33, leaving a suicide note that concluded his reasons of committing it.

 (Muzungu- the Kiswahili word for white man, originates from the word ‘zungu’ or 'zunguka', which means spinning around on the same spot, or wandering around aimlessly. The Kiswahili words we used are the words you could learn as a tourist.)

Muzungu Souvenir shop allows us to compose a new image, a resistance to the images that were imposed on us, and that were supposed to stabilize the notion of Africa as the reasoning of the white supremacy.
It allows us to celebrate our shared falsified memories of an unknown land that established our own selves.

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