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Swedish hip-hop star slams 'racist' cartoon

Rebecca Martin · 12 Jan 2012, 11:53

Published: 12 Jan 2012 11:53 GMT+01:00

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Swedish artist JasonTimbuktuDiakité was among those who reacted angrily toward the image.

Frode Øverli's comic strip...was the most insensitive and degrading thing I have ever read in your newspaper. It is a crystal clear case of ignorance and lack of insight in what it feels like to be subjected to racism. I feel deeply offended and very sad,” Diakité wrote in an email to Metro editor Peter Gunne.

The comic strip features a cannibal chief, his daughter, and a prospective suitor.

The cartoon was a play on the the phrase "to ask for someone's hand" and many Metro readers felt that it was based on racial stereotypes.

”After all these years of human knowledge it seems you remain in the era of steam engines, racial biology and genocide. You should be ashamed of yourself for not knowing better,” Diakité wrote.

However, it wasn't just Diakité who objected to the controversial strip. According to Metro, some 60 readers contacted the paper saying that they felt that the image was racist.

The paper has therefore chosen to print an apology, saying that it never meant to offend anyone.

”Is it OK to make fun of cannibals? Yes, I think so. Is it OK to joke in a way that can be seen as racist? Absolutely not,” Gunne wrote in Metro and added that the paper has a zero-tolerance policy against racism.

”With 1.6 million readers, there is always someone who is offended, but this was too many,” said Gunne to Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.

Cartoonist Øverli is also devastated that the strip has offended readers. He said in a statement that he is crushed by the whole incident as he strongly opposes all forms of racism.

”My comics are a play on clichés and stereotypes from the old days - the culture that gave birth to cartoons - and the exaggerated details of the drawing is a parody of the stereotypes of the time,” Øverli said.

Øverli is an award winning cartoonist, considered one of the most successful in Scandinavia. His comic strips appear in Swedish Metro, as well as in Norwegian publications.

According to the artist, cannibals, just as Santa Claus, werewolves and the like, are fantasy figures that he never thought would offend anyone.

”It wasn't and will never be, my intention, But seeing as this has been perceived as racist, I naturally offer my utmost apologies,” he wrote.

Story continues below…

When The Local reached Metro's Per Gunne, he said that the matter had been settled and that it was over as far as he is concerned.

He also confirmed that Diakité had accepted the apology.

“Thank you Per Gunne and Frode Øverli for your respectful letters. That was big,” Diakité posted on Twitter.

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Rebecca Martin (rebecca.martin@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:08 January 12, 2012 by ?????
Well, the readers should be offended because Metro's cartoons are usually stupid rather than racist. Second, "1.6 million readers/ some 60 readers...felt that the image was racist/ but this was too many,"!!!!! Someone do the maths please! Finally, should Hard Rockers be offended because the Metro cartoons usually depict them as being noisy morons as today's strip did?

13:18 January 12, 2012 by bolababu
you get a life, i have lived here long enough to know that i should not refer to Swedes as rascist to their face regarding the fact that most have little or no self-esteem, most cannibals in recent times have come from europe and the US so to refer to cannibals in a catoon and depict them as Africans is absolutely rude and offensive so i tell you again, you get a life!
13:39 January 12, 2012 by Scepticion
Well, there is obviously a pineapple above the chief's head. The pineapple originates from South America, so if this is set in a place where cannibalism still existed (not colonized), it's very unlikely to have been Africa, but should be in the Amazon.
13:52 January 12, 2012 by bolababu
@Scepticion; thanks for confirming the European ignorance, you see only the pineapple in this picture, i see africans not indians.
13:53 January 12, 2012 by DAVID T
I'm a cannibal and I hate Hip Hop - Especially Timbuktu - I'm from there and he stole our name yet he's never took one step inside Timbuktu and if he did I would eat him
13:59 January 12, 2012 by bolababu
@David, the article wasn't about Timbuktu or where you are from, it is about people demanding respect from other people whom they are not capable of showing any respect to.
14:04 January 12, 2012 by tgolan
time to get a life Racist? everything is racist Timbuktu is racist , just the name Timbuktu is an attempt to put down white people, enough of its always some one fault.....
14:13 January 12, 2012 by nar klockan klamtar
The figures speak for themselves 60 out of 1.6 million. Case closed, next!!!
14:31 January 12, 2012 by comentatir
That's very kind of the cartoonist that even a little number of disapproval made him to announce that it was not his intention to offend anyone. Although some other cartoonist offends millions of people from a religion and neither him nor his paper bothers to take a step to compromise or apologize or anything. That's the difference between people.
15:01 January 12, 2012 by Central European
So it it time to put a question to us.

Do we have enough understanding for canibals ?

Do we have enough canibals in our european society ?

Or are we a victims of people who do not understad witticism at all ?

Please do not forget that just about 10-20,000 years age we all were canibals :)
15:09 January 12, 2012 by Tanskalainen
Please eat me.
15:11 January 12, 2012 by rise
The stupid "racist this and racist that" has gone too far ever long since. And personally I don't care to listen anymore. Let the racist callers yell by themselves.

The sentence "I feel deeply offended and very sad," Diakité wrote" is very typical in other cases as well; people as of today takes everything personal, thinking everything that happens is all about them. To me that is pure narcissism!
15:37 January 12, 2012 by johan rebel
Don't people have better things to do than going around feeling deeply offended? Sweden is becoming a country of loud-mouthed career victims, pointing fingers, demanding apologies and compensation. No matter how many apologies they get, it will never compensate for their lack of humor. Miserable whingers.
15:43 January 12, 2012 by Svensksmith
Quick, someone call Jesse Jackson.
16:09 January 12, 2012 by Dazzler
Perhaps Mr. "Buktu" should strap on a suicide vest and detonate himself to protest this evil cartoon!
16:12 January 12, 2012 by tigger007
you know what i just called him and he's on his way,but first he said he will kick svensksmith in the azzzz.
16:23 January 12, 2012 by Scepticion
@ bolababu

First, my comment had a satirical connotation to it. Why does everything have to be taken deeply seriously? If some politician made some statement that Africans are cannibals, then that has to be strongly condemned. But that was a cartoon.

And for your information, you seem to display racist thinking too - throwing everything in one pot -

dark skinned people are not exclusive to Africa:


16:40 January 12, 2012 by Roy E
Insecure hypersensitive wimps like this 'hip-hopper' clown are their own worst enemies. The entire 'racism' schtick has gone way beyond stupid, as have the pathetic groveling apologies.

Someone please point this hip-hop loser to the definition of 'kontraproduktiv' .
17:00 January 12, 2012 by Åskar
I had no idea that Diakité is a cannibal.
17:11 January 12, 2012 by jvtx3232
These crybabies need to stop getting so upset about CARTOONS!

Get a life for crying out loud, it's a cartoon!
17:23 January 12, 2012 by Svensksmith
@tigger bring him on! I ain't afraid of that old dude.
17:25 January 12, 2012 by zooeden
Wonderful, this I like, this is a situation that is handled with delicacy and civilized in comparison with our animal brothers the extreme muslims with the danish cartoonist :D
18:19 January 12, 2012 by bolababu
the funny thing about this whole thing is that everyone of you Swedes who have commented here do not even have the nuts to say this out in the open, you onle say your opinions from behind your PCs, ..in my experiance, there is a history which makes such cartoons offensive, leaving your own shores and enslaving other people in theirs, demeaning them and then a hundred years later you expect everything to be just fine? ..all forgotten especially when you use the same events to poke fun and them? ..my opinion of Sweden here is that the average Swede has absolutely no self esteem and quickly get offended when they feel that they have been put down by another person even when they don't have the balls to confirm it and because of that i have learned to respect that and not joke about things that they consider sensitive issues but i definitely will not reciprocate respect to someone who doesn't respect me just because they think their skin colour has earned them the right to be superior.
20:02 January 12, 2012 by Cage
Conveniently the cartoon is republished here for the benefit of The Local.

I mean for the benefit of The Local readers.
22:02 January 12, 2012 by RobinHood
I sincerely hope Mr Överli has learned his lesson and will be more respectful towards cannibals in future.

Thank you Mr Timbuktu and the many posters here for speaking up on behalf of cannibals everywhere, not just the cannibals of the Pacific islands as represented in this obviously cannibalphobic and entirely unfunny cartoon.

I took the liberty of consulting the president of the Cannibal Society, Mr Hannibal Lecter on this important issue. He said "I've been waiting for you Clarice."
22:15 January 12, 2012 by jostein
Bit silly, imho. The cartoon invites us to recognize ourselves in the dude who makes the freudean slip. So, it might be racist on the surface, for people with dead soules. But i dont think it is, not really. A racist cartoon would divide the world in "us" and "them" and make us laugh at "them." It is not how this cartoon works. Imho.
22:34 January 12, 2012 by jvtx3232
"Thank you Mr Timbuktu and the many posters here for speaking up on behalf of cannibals everywhere, not just the cannibals of the Pacific islands as represented in this obviously cannibalphobic and entirely unfunny cartoon."

LOL! Cannibalphobia: it's a terrible crime against humanity! When will these troglodyte neanderthals ever learn???

23:12 January 12, 2012 by rise
@ RobinHood

I like that respectful and civilized tone of yours. It got me thinking cannibals have rights to! They're human beings with inner feelings just like everybody else. It's a good thing Mr Timbuktu hasn't been eaten by one but still is among us fighting for the cannibals' rights! Fight cannibalphobism!!
23:52 January 12, 2012 by Chickybee
So it's OK for Muslim youth to call Swedish women whores and practising open misogyny and they upset about comments like this?

Please - tolerance only goes so far.
02:26 January 13, 2012 by bolababu
@rise; ..Mr.Timbuktu is among "you" as in? ..what about the Swedish Svensson a few months ago who killed his wife and ate her? ..should have been the picture of your king in that cartoon and some guy asks for Victoria's hand instead, most of you would have gone around at least for a couple of days with your heads hung low as usual.
03:59 January 13, 2012 by rise
@ bolababu "@rise; ..Mr.Timbuktu is among "you" as in?"

As in "among the living".

"what about the Swedish Svensson a few months ago who killed his wife and ate her?"

Haven't you been reading? Fight cannibalphobia! As Timbuktu apparently is doing.

P.S. The sour-face I am seeing here has the signature "bolababu" and that one isn't even a Swede I assume.
05:33 January 13, 2012 by Da Goat
I think anyone who is offended by the cartoon should put their liquorice back in there pants and settle down!

first it is about cannibalism not race .....if you see race in the cartoon you are a racist .....if you do not see race then you are not racist! Simple!
10:02 January 13, 2012 by Grindsprint
Bullshit! it´s not racist. They don´t make fun of an ethnic group. They make fun of cannibalism. Cannibal tribes are known to have been found in africa, so it makes sense to draw them with dark skin. This screaming "racism" left and right is getting annoying. It takes focus of off real racism, that actually hurts people for real. Instead of thinking too much about the conteents of a comic strip, maybe people should go and do something constructive...
10:23 January 13, 2012 by Åskar
Today's cartoon was about an ugly, fat man. Should all ugly, fat men feel offended, too?
12:52 January 13, 2012 by Achilles7
Why does this even make the news? Who cares if some stupid, immigrant rapper was offended by a drawing? Just ignore him.
13:38 January 13, 2012 by TexKen
Racist? Political correctness ignorance and stupidity run amuck.
14:28 January 13, 2012 by Scepticion

ah yes, there are organization against discrimination of fat people already:



So, soon you will not be able to make any jokes involving people anymore, because it's always discriminatory in some way.

Then you can only make jokes about animals, until the PETA comes along.

I'm not sure how funny jokes about stones will be....

Lighten up...
15:11 January 13, 2012 by Åskar
The Swedish author Fritiof Nilsson Piraten once said "If I write about a needle there is always some one-eyed bastard that recognises himself".

I, being one-eyed, feel immensely offended by this.
18:44 January 13, 2012 by tadchem
Were the cannibal tribes of New Guinea or Brazil, or the cannibals of Germany, Austria, or the Ukraine offended?
21:28 January 13, 2012 by bcterry
"That's very kind of the cartoonist that even a little number of disapproval made him to announce that it was not his intention to offend anyone. Although some other cartoonist offends millions of people from a religion and neither him nor his paper bothers to take a step to compromise or apologize or anything. That's the difference between people. "

I assume these are these the cartoons you are referring to?


"Cartoons from the Arab World"
01:24 January 14, 2012 by hughknows
The cartoon plays on somewhat racist stereotypes - but like the cartoonist said they're more historical and actually just a context for a linguistic joke which everyone can appreciate. It's certainly in poor taste but cartoons are supposed to be, so should it demand an uproar and personal apologies if it's not actually hateful or causing some kind of traumatic offense? Would anyone complain about a an incidental depiction of ugly, inbred, white Swedes from the far South/North of Sweden in a cartoon? If they did, nobody would care. As others have pointed out cannibals exist in all cultures, including modern European ones. Yet the kind that is being referenced in the image - traditional and culturally accepted tribal cannibalism - was in fact encountered among certain specific non-European primal groups all over the world during the period of European exploration and colonisation and there is a real origin for this outdated stereotype even if it is an inaccurate generalisation. As an aside: Before I started reading articles in The Local I don't think I minded the word 'slam'. Now I cringe at the sight of it. How many people and institutions can 'slam' things and be 'slammed' in Sweden alone in the space of a year? It must have been hundreds in 2011. If there's going to be constant hyperbole in the headlines, at least vary the language a little. There are these great little things called synonyms... Lastly I'd like to make an unofficial complaint about the choice of an image of a well known Swedish hip hop artist clearly performing a gesture resembling a Nazi salute in this article. I know it's unintentional, but it's still possibly offensive. If you compare the number of readers of the Metro to readers of the local, and do a quick percentage calculation on the ratio of complainants to non-complainants, I think you'll find this image too should now be deemed unacceptable...('too many' complaints!)
14:43 January 14, 2012 by rise
By the way as far as I know there's only one human race, Homo sapiens, and if scientists are to be believed we're all sprung from Africa, making the whole world's population actual Negros. I am a Negro, you are a Negro (however white as I am ;-)).
14:05 January 20, 2012 by comentatir

Uhm, I guess you are being sarcastic because I was talking about Lars Vilks actually. But some of the cartoons you linked are a bit harsh, true, if I would be Ariel Sharon I would be irritated really. But seems like you were offended as well. Am I right? Do you think those cartoons and the Lars Vilks' cartoon is similar? Personally I dont. You probably have an idea about me, what religion I belong to or maybe where I am from. Well, you should stop doing that!
17:25 May 23, 2012 by janeway
When people are denied a job or an apartment based on their skincolor or origin, then it's racism.

When people are physically and verbally attacked based on their skincolor or origin, then it's racism.

But when someone draws a satirical strip, that actually attacks stereotypes, and some people can't take it, then it's not racism.

Because if everyone that gets upset over whatever always names it racism, the true and gruesome meaning of that word will lose it's value.

And don't give me any cwap about "you don't know what it's like"! None of you knows who I am and what kind of things have happened to me.
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