GDW GUEST ARTICLE: LET TARZAN DIE A NATURAL DEATH - Milton Allimadi of the Black Star News Weighs in on yet another Tarzan movie!

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

Well, just when our brothers and sisters from Africa, the US and the Caribbean were beginning to develop synergistic methods for moving forward; reuniting our skills, efforts and missions - up jumps the ugly spectre of the myth of Tarzan - big as life and twice as ugly.

It appears that Hollyweird has done it again - or at least tried to - because out of the moldy oldy past, the bogus legend of Tarzan has been reinvented and foisted upon movie goers.  Yes, your heard me.  Tarzan - or as my sister and I used to call him when we were kids Naz-rat (which is Tarzan spelled backwards).

Not that we didn't watch all the Black and white movie of Tarzan on TV as kids, because there was very little original TV programming in Oklahoma City during the early days of WKY-TV; because we surely did.  And like most kids our age, who had not been informed, we'd go into the back yard and swing from the ropes and do the infamous yell - as most of the uninformed kids our age would do.  That was until the magic age of ten, when our NAACP Youth Council mentors began to give us the real story behind Tarzan.  That was it for us.  

I dare say that there are millions of white kids who never got that information, who have grown up with the image of this throwback in their psyches, and one of them is now either the  writer or producer of this awful throw up.

Brother Milton Allimadi, publisher of the Black Star News has an analysis and a few choice words for him and those of his ilk.  I consider Milton to be an expert on things African, since he is from Africa - born and bred - unlike the ersatz great white dope - er, hope - they keep trying to foist on the media.  

So I'm posting his commentary - and it is indeed considerable and in depth - here.  It must have been painful, aggravating and insulting for him to have sat through this load of crap.  He is to be commended for his restraint in not taking physical action; but instead using the media to inform folks - don't believe the great white hype - 


If you do allow your kids to go see this madness, let me give you some advice as to how to make sure they don't get caught up in the hype:  Start by telling them it's a work of FICTION - as are most Hollyweird productions; that it's racist and anti-Black; that it sets a white man up as the hero in a land where the entire population is Black;  that whites went into Africa 400 years ago, kidnapped our ancestors and brought them here to be slaves - which is how most of s got here; and they have spent years and millions of dollars trying to continuously make us believe they are superior - when it's really us, because no other people have endured what we did, lived to tell about it and are continuing to grow despite what happened.  And lastly, tell them to take notes on how many times in the movie they make it look as if nothing would have happened if it had not been for Nazrat - because that's where the lie is.   Tell them to put the initials b.s. by it.  Guaranteed they'll come out with their eyes totally open.


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Let Tarzan Rest In Peace
Why and how does Hollywood still make a film about a White man, Tarzan, as King of the African jungle?
Tarzan will always epitomize the history of eurocentric racist demonization of Africa -- whether it's the old black-and-white Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan of the 1930s with his jungle cry and interacting with bug-eyed African "savages", the 1950s Gordon Scott era or the Alexander Skarsgard 21st century version who has to be arm-twisted and convinced by a Black sidekick (Samuel L. Jackson as Dr. George Washington Williams; a role inserted to try and improve the racial optics) to return to the jungle and help rescue Africans (Congolese in this case) from a bad White man, King Lepold of the Belgians, and his evil agents (including Christoph Waltz as Leon Rom).
Leopold --in this movie version, "The Legend of Tarzan"-- has been enslaving Africans, committing massacres, stealing ivory, and eyeing diamonds. He's now building a railway so he can deploy 20,000 more troops and extend his murderous domain over wider Congolese territory.
How dare he!
So let's send in a White man, now settled in England, but born in Africa to shipwrecked British aristocrats and raised by gorillas until he mastered the jungles; let him rescue the Africans who have lived there from the beginning of time yet somehow failed to master the same jungles.
Tarzan was a bad idea and remains a bad idea on many levels. We will come back to the White-hero-rescues-natives complex. Let's start with the stunning insensitivity to the history of colonialism in Africa and in Congo in particular. Maybe the setting should have been a fictitious country called Mobu-bundu (Hollywood has always been good at coming up with names like that); not the Congo that was ravished by Leopold and Henry Morton Stanley and other sadistic imperialists.
Perhaps, instead of Leopold, a fictitious colonizing monarch could have been created to represent all the European powers that sliced up Africa (the "magnificent African cake" as Leopold called it) in 1885 at the Berlin Conference.
The real Leopold committed a genocide that claimed the lives of an estimated 10 million Congolese; countless more had their hands or feet amputated for failing to deliver their quota of rubber or ivory. There are chilling photos of Africans holding up the severed hands and other body parts of loved ones. You wouldn't get a sense of the magnitude of Leopold's horrific crimes if all your African history comes from "The Legend of Tarzan"; which, unfortunately will be the case for many Americans who watch this movie.
Leopold of the Belgians wasn't the only imperialist who presided over massacres in Africa. There again is the major problem with "The Legend of Tarzan." By focusing on Leopold, the massacres committed by the British, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, German and Italian colonizers are whitewashed; why pile up on the Belgians?
Yes Leopold depopulated the Congo; but what about the British destruction of the Great Ashanti Empire, the Zulu Empire, and the Ndebele? The genocide of the Herero people in Namibia by the Germans was the first genocide of the 20th century.
If it's too complex to capture the horrors of European colonial conquest and rule in an action-film, and Lepold becomes emblematic of the worst of the worse, why does the hero --even this fictitious one-- have to be Tarzan?
When Edgar Rice Burroughs created Tarzan in 1912 all of Africa, except Ethiopia and Liberia was under European control. While many people saw Tarzan movies as "entertainment" the representations of Africa also had insidious intended consequences. The portrayal of Africans as primitive justified continued colonial rule.
(And White men, including journalists, have always been fascinated with the image of Tarzan on the prowl in Africa.
On January 12, 1992, when I interviewed Michael Kaufman, then The New York Times' deputy foreign editor about his newspaper's African coverage he told me while he was a correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya, he favored two approaches to African coverage: A thematic approach, with articles that were relevant across national borders, and the "ooga-booga" approach. Here is how he explained the latter: "When I was growing up and Tarzan was about to attack Africans, they would make him speak his fake African, ooga-booga, ooga-booga. That's what I call ooga-booga reporting. It is the National Geographic approach. It captures the
thing that is unique to the place. Ooga-booga stories are titillating. I enjoyed it and readers did...")
Malcolm X had a deep understanding of the power of media representations and he once told an audience that when Europeans controlled Africa they "projected the image of Africa negatively. They projected Africa always in a negative light; jungle, savages, cannibals. Nothing civilized and naturally it was negative to you and me. And you and I began to hate it. We didn't want anybody to tell us anything about Africa much less call us an African. And in hating Africa and the African we ended up hating ourselves without even realizing it."
Why do Black people have to pay money to go see an imaginary White hero rescuing Africans in Africa; is this affirmation of the pervasive stereotype that Black people everywhere can't do anything for themselves? Today in our 21st century, the best that imagination can come up with is to resuscitate a White hero who represents a discredited (evidently not to everyone) era?
Don't we deserve better? What about a Black hero? Consider this one: An enslaved African who embodies the spirit of Nat Turner escapes from a plantation in America, hijacks a ship, frees other African captives, throws the White captain and his men overboard (just like African women and men were tossed overboard during the Middle Passage) so that they could be consumed by sharks.
The new masters of the ship discover that it's stocked with hundreds of the first ever models of Maxim guns; the rebels sail back to Africa with this arsenal of weapons; they reunite with their sisters and brothers on the continent; and, combining fighting skills learned from the New World with African techniques developed by Tchaka of the Zulus, they attack and annihilate Belgian, British, French, Portuguese, German, and Spanish colonizers.
They don't stop there. They pursue them to Europe and ransack their countries. They bring some of them back to work on African farms so they can pay off some of their past loot.
Who would even want to watch Tarzan after this film?
We could even go with real African heroes. Tchaka (or Shaka), the masterful Zulu general is relatively known; he wasn't the only one. There is Samori Ture who defeated the French in several late 19th century battles; there is Muhammad ibn Abdallah, or the Mahdi, who defeated the British general Charles Gordon in Khartoum (Gordon's head was cut off although the Mahdi had ordered that he be captured alive); there is Empress Taytu Betul and her husband Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia who both led brilliant attacks against an invading Italian army of 10,000 commanded by Gen. Oreste Baratieri and killed nearly 5,000 enemy soldiers and two Italian generals and took thousands of prisoners as Baratieri, who had promised to return to Italy with Menelik in a cage, fled for his life.
Who needs Tarzan?
Congo itself had a hero, a Black shining Prince, Patrice Lumumba. After the sons of Lepold were driven from Congo in 1960, Lumumba as the new Prime Minister of independent Congo dared to imagine a new Congo, where the daughters and sons of the amputees would now own the gold, copper, diamond, timber, manganese, and coltane, and use the proceeds to heal and develop.
Lumumba was deposed within months by the Belgians with the involvement of the CIA. Yet his short public life continues to inspire millions of Africans; just as the nemory of Malcolm X's life and Thomas Sankara's do.
Tarzan was imagined when Europeans still physically ruled Africa (nowadays the control is maintained by institutions such as the IMF and World Bank and through puppet "presidents" like Uganda's Yoweri Museveni); Africans were depicted as the antithesis of civilization.
Tarzan deserves to die or to remain buried. This is the era for new heroes.
Tell Hollywood no more Tarzan movies.
Milton Allimadi publishes The Black Star News. The Second Edition of his book "The Hearts of Darkness, How White Writers Created the Racist Image of Africa" will be published on August 15, 2016.


Milton Allimadi, Publisher/CEO
The Black Star News
P.O. Box 1472
New York, N.Y., 10274
My footnote to this is that Black people should be making (actually, MUST MAKE)  more pro-Africa, African American, Afro Caribbean, Afro Brazilian movies - in modern time, where we are working together, where we have begun to build and develop and unify and grow.  Movies where the Diaspora begins to reunite.  We now have enough creative, talented, intelligent, informed BLACK WRITERS, PRODUCERS, ACTORS AND ACTRESSES - and WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY.  Let's do this.  Let's stop being reactionary to their crap, and build, tell and produce OUR OWN STORIES.

A fitting end to Naz-Rat would be for him to get his hair entangled in some of our African branches, like Absalom, and die a natural death befitting a white interloper.  It's what I would have done if I had been writing this cockamamie story.  Of course he would have been the side kick to a Black African hero who returned home  in the 21st century - we need more modern day stories of contemporary heroism - with his technology and knowledge of Black history, and is now ready to do battle with despotic African administrators (I don't call them leaders unless they are like Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, Senghor, Jomo Kenyatta, or Mugabe, or Nyrere - who stand for their people); and the enemy would be the Chinese who have come to exploit and take over Africa after having over populated their own country.  Let's keep it real real!!! But make it exciting.  We can have united African forces - with adventuristic brothers from the US - just itching to use their AK-47s for something positive for a change.  What better target than those who continue to try to subjugate Africa?  Put some romance in there, and mix it with our wonderful culture and music - and you've got a block buster on your hands (please no more Blood Diamonds, either).  

Let's write a story about getting the dregs of the post colonial europeans out of Africa and the rebuilding of Africa back into the empire she once was, only in modern time.  And his name definitely would not be "Tarzan." 

And while I'm on the subject, I highly recommend a wonderful piece that was filmed and  produced by Philadelphia Cinematographer, BOB LOTT, entitled "AFRICAN GENESIS:  Journey of the Songhai People, Part Two: GHANA: The Door of No Return"

The title may not be sexy, but the story is real, the film is great, inspiring, heart warming, and exciting.  Check it out by contacting him via his website:  www.boblottproducer.com


Stay Blessed &


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