Scramble for Africa
Yinka Shonibare MBE
Christina: When you picture Africa, what do you see? Some may answer that they see the wide open plains of the Savannah and the immense diversity of animals that inhabit it. Others may envision the huge thriving cities in South Africa where tourists often visit to enjoy the beaches or take a stroll through a national park. Even others may imagine the indigenous peoples who still live all throughout Africa and whose ways of life are so starkly different from those of Western societies and other parts of the world. No matter what you imagine, it is easy to see that Africa is associated with a variety of images, but which one is accurate?
Reilly: Identity is an issue that Africa has struggled with for centuries due to European invasion and the racist ideas that they brought with them. They viewed Africans as barbaric, animalistic, and uneducated. They did not think that these indigenous peoples could comprehend culture, let alone create it. The Europeans arrived to Africa with a sense of entitlement to the land, thus forming the Berlin Conference to divide and colonize Africa. This is the event that Yinka Shonibare depicts in his piece The Scramble for Africa. Through this work, Shonibare expertly combines the historical event with artistic elements that mix both traditional African art with Western ideals. In doing so, Shonibare explores the identity of Africa through its history and Western influence.
The piece is set up in