why this obsession with piracy sinks the representation of africa even deeper.

I really wanted to talk in pirate talk but I guess that’s been done to death…

Pirates in Somalia: swashbuckling fiends, raising havoc on the high seas. No man is safe, no luxury cruiser from Spain is spared; hide your old, your women, your children!


There is no denying that the very idea of having pirates, real pirates is crazy. Saying that gives me the tingles, as if I’m back in some long gone time of yore. Flesh and blood pirates along the horn of Africa, in an age when piracy is synonymous with Lime wire and Napster?

In our short discussion as a group, I know a lot of issues came up: what does this mean for legislation, in so far as the spatial imaginary is limit-less, occurring over a fluid, un-claimed body of waters that belongs to no one. Why the constant media attention now, when piracy has been going on for so long? Could it be that it had simply never been reported? In a time of satellites, high tech cameras, around the clock stations and news reporting that covers the inappropriate flesh flashes of some celebrity on the D-list, could it really e that an issue as apparently crazy as this missed the news altogether?

When I get to our question of why Africa though, the fog clears a it and things begin to fall into place. Piracy may e happening all over the world, all those times, but it has interesting ramifications, and high stakes in the African context. Its a little undeveloped right now but here are some thoughts:

  1. This focus on old-fashioned, primitive practices as being intrinsic to this so-called Dark Continent. Tribes, jungles, witch-doctors, rain-dances – you name it – the sensationalism of practices and people that embody some out-worldly, out-dated concept is such a huge part of the Western imagination with regards to Africa.
  2. Its ramifications for the concept of Africa as a continent – not a place. While most news sources are carefully to say Somalian pirates, or the occasional Kenyan pirate, its interesting to see when ‘Africa’ gets thrown into the discourse to generalize the occurrence.

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