Monday, December 27, 2021

For the Record: God Rest You Merry

Ecumenical Holiday Ugly Sweater via Zazzle, $31.05

Just in case it's not totally clear what Ted is attempting to do here, it's to vilify Kwanzaa without sounding like My Little Margie here:

It's what you might call "blackwashing" his racist opinion of the holiday by finding an apparently innocent Black lady who believes her religion obliges her to oppose Kwanzaa: "An authentic African agrees with me!" 

Obianuju Ekeocha is innocent enough to not know that what Kwanzaa interferes with, if anything, is not Christianity but Britishness—it gets in the way of Boxing Day—but not entirely innocent, as that foolish lie about her "village" shows. She has claimed to be a trained hematologist working at "Canterbury Hospital, South-East London", though she's not on the haematology staff of Kent and Canterbury Hospital southeast of London, and the hospital's Haematology and Blood Laboratory Service, where she may work, doesn't list staff and isn't a research department, and I can only find her name on one research publication, from 2008, when she was working at University Hospital Lewisham, which is in southeast London, "SUBTROCHANTERIC FRACTURE FOLLOWING SCREW FIXATION OF AN INTRCAPSULAR NECK OF FEMUR FRACTURE: TECHNICAL ERROR OR FAILING BONE HEALTH?"

What we know Ekeocha does is to run a nonprofit organization, Culture of Life Africa, which she started up in 2012 after writing an open letter to Melinda Gates protesting the Gates Foundation project of raising $4.6 billion to fund contraception in developing countries. The organization involves a lot of traveling, as well as writing, filmmaking—

Objianuju Ekeocha uses her voice as an African woman to speak out against against Western donors and organizations who act on the misguided belief that they know what’s best for African women and families: more abortion and contraception, fewer children, less maternity — basically, fewer Africans. Ekeocha points out that this comes across as racist; in her 2018 book Target Africa: Ideological Neo-colonialism in the Twenty-First Century, she also identifies this agenda as a form of ideological colonization. The West’s new cultural values from the sexual revolution of the 1960s are being coercively promoted in Africa, but they are not values cherished by Africa’s own cultures and traditions. They are also leaving African women with the harmful side effects of contraception and the sorrowful aftermath of abortion.

To support her efforts at increasing awareness about this, Obianuju founded The Culture of Life Africa. She speaks with the media, presents at international forums and conferences and advises African political leaders and bishops’ conferences. She recently produced a documentary now available on, “Strings Attached,” which tells the story of a “well-funded, Western reproductive health organization that has devastated the lives of many African women and girls whose voices are too small to be heard ... under the guise of ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights.’”

—and of course raising funds through her website. Something tells me she hasn't been to the lab in a long time.

You can say anthropologically there's something a little bit bogus about Kwanzaa, with its secular East African (Swahili-speaking) framework  projected onto a population of West African origin, but it certainly doesn't do any harm, and it's nowhere near as bogus as the Santa Claus–Bethlehem cult created in late 19th-century North America blending bits of German and Dutch and English tradition into a kind of semiotic plasma of inchoate meaningfulness for the benefit of the new mass-market retail industry that was restructuring the economy with its advertising agencies, mail-order catalogues, and department stores. Then you can ask why Ted feels the need to castigate it, or seek "African" voices to do it for him.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

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