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  • There are those occasions in your life when your kids really teach you something. As they get older and smarter, sometimes they really floor you. When my daughter was eighteen, she went to Burundi with a group of Quakers to build a school and teach English. When she returned, she was a die-hard Africanist. And one day she pointed this out to me – In almost every movie made about Africa the main characters are white people (Tarzan, Last King of Scotland, Blood Diamond, Out of Africa), or if there is a Black African main character, they are balanced by a white one (Cry Freedom, Invictus – and that’s Nelson Mandela!). Or the movies are about animals (Madagascar, Lion King). Hotel Rwanda is one exception, but even then there’s Joaquin Phoenix to give the white perspective.

    I recently learned about a Finnish game called African Star. The game was the vision of a freezing Finnish teenager after WWII with a keen sense of wanderlust, and is extremely popular in Finland. The game board is covered with a bunch of animals, and has two white people and one very dark spear-holding black man. The goal of the game is to get the biggest diamond, the eponymous African Star. In the US, games with images like this have either been updated or disappeared. While representations of Africa still have a far way to go, something like that we don’t have in the US anymore. I think this ties into larger issues of the integration of African immigrants into Europe, but that's a whole separate can of worms.

    Learning about the game reminded me of my daughter, and what she taught me.
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