Masai performances under fire

A Swedish wildlife park has come under fire for hiring five members of the Masai tribe to "dance, sing and jump" in the park.

The Kolmården park, near Norrköping, invited five Masai tour guides to provide entertainment as part of safari evenings, during which visitors are also told about African wildlife and eat African food. The sponsors of the event include Kenya Airways.

Anti-racism organization Centrum Mot Rasism (CMR) says the Kolmården wildlife park’s displays are ‘Afrophobic’, something the park itself has dismissed.

CMR says that the Masai in Kolmården reinforce prejudice and discriminatory structures in society.

“One’s thoughts turn to colonial times, when black people were put on display at museums and at wandering circuses,” wrote CMR’s boss, Mkyabela Sabuni in a statement.

“These five Masai among the animals at Kolmården create an image of Africans as primitive.”

But Kolmården’s chief executive Magnus Nilsson said he was surprised by Sabuni’s comments.

“I don’t recognize the picture she’s painting.”

“These are five excellent guides who have come here to promote eco-tourism in Kenya. They are a major asset to the Kenyan economy and are also our friends and business partners,” he said.

CMR, which is publicly funded, last year came under fire for not doing enough to justify its budget. It is best known for campaigning against an ice cream called Nogger Black, which it said was racist.