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Strong Measures

A Congolese man has filed a complaint against Tintin in a Belgian court. He accuses the classic adventure comic by Belgian author Hergé of being racist in its 1930s portrayal of the Congo, and he wants to see it banned. Jeanette Kavira Mapera, the Congolese Minister of Culture, defended Tintin in the Congo in an interview.

    “In the old days, when this book was written and its creator was inspired, in fact, the Congolese didn’t know how to speak French. Even today, a Congolese isn’t the best French speaker. At the time described in this book, in fact, to put a Congolese to work or to get him to work, it was necessary to use a stick. Today, in certain environments, to send children or adults into the fields, it is necessary to do it with strong measures.”

Hergé himself, who was only 23 when he created Tintin in the Congo, was less of an apologist for his work than the Congolese minister. As he put it later in life, “I was fed on the prejudices of the bourgeois society in which I moved.” One wonders what prejudices the minister herself carries, if she considers it normal “in certain environments” to send children into the fields by force, even today?

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