Tintin book deemed too racist for SA

South African publishers have placed restrictions on the comic book Tintin in the Congo following complaints of racism in Britain.

The Afrikaans publisher of the popular Tintin series, Human & Rousseau, has decided not to release an Afrikaans version of the book, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) radio reported on Saturday.

“We felt that it depicted indigenous African people in an unflattering ... stereotypical fashion, said spokesperson Carina Diedericks-Hugo.

“We realised that the creator, Hergé, did comment on various treatments of indigenous peoples, such as the Chinese in Tintin and the Blue Lotus and also in Tintin in America, with the Indians.

“But we felt that we have a particular situation in South Africa, and that [the book’s] depiction of indigenous people, we can’t agree with that,” she was quoted as saying on the SABC news website.

Penguin Books will also be placing notices on the English version of the book, warning potential buyers of the racial sensitivity of its contents, the website reported. Alison Lowry, the CEO of Penguin Books, said the English translation of the French original will still be distributed.

Earlier this month, bookstore chain Borders said it was removing the book from the children’s section of its stores in Britain after a customer complained the work was racist.
Similar steps will be taken at the company’s 499 stores in the United States. The book will be stocked alongside graphic novels.

David Enright, a London-based human rights lawyer, was recently shopping at Borders with his family when he came upon the book, first published in 1931, and opened it to find what he characterised as racist abuse.

“The material suggests to [children] that Africans are subhuman, that they are imbeciles, that they’re half savage,” Enright said in a recent interview.

The illustrated work by Belgian author-cartoonist Georges Remi, who wrote under a pen name, is the second in a series of 23 tracing the adventures of Tintin, an intrepid reporter, and his dog, Snowy. The series has sold 220-million copies worldwide and been translated into 77 languages.

But Tintin in the Congo has been widely criticised as racist by fans and critics alike.

Remi depicts the white hero’s adventures in the Congo against the backdrop of an idiotic, chimpanzee-like native population that eventually comes to worship Tintin—and his dog—as gods.

Remi later said he was embarrassed by the book, and some editions have had the more objectionable content removed. When an unexpurgated edition was brought out in Britain in 2005, it came wrapped with a warning and was written with a forward explaining the work’s colonial context.—Sapa-AP

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