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Controversial Taylor Swift Wildest Dreams Africa Video

Why is Taylor Swift's Wildest Dreams Africa video considered controversial?

Taylor Swift Wildest Dreams is set in colonial Africa in the 1950s and features almost no black Africans. Why was colonial Africa not a happy place for black Africans? Because blacks were considered a white man's burden.

Colonial Africa
The scramble for Africa

Taylor Swift Wildest Dreams Africa Video

Joseph Kahn, the director of Taylor Swift's new Wildest Dreams video based in Africa during the unashamedly racially prejudiced and bigoted 1950s era defended the video following criticisms it portrays a misrepresented version of Africa. Kahn stated it "is not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa, 1950".

Activists on social media criticized Taylor Swift's Wildest Dreams for glamorizing a "white colonial fantasy of Africa".

In a statement, Kahn denied that the video only includes white people.

However Kahn stated, "We collectively decided it would have been historically inaccurate to load the crew with more black actors as the video would have been accused of rewriting history." This video is set in the past by a crew set in the present and we are all proud of our work."

Kahn also said, "There are black Africans in the video in a number of shots, but I rarely cut to crew faces outside of the director as the vast majority of screen time is Taylor and Scott.''

Writing for NPR Viviane Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe said they were "shocked" that in 2015 Swift, her record label and video production team "would think it was OK to film a video that presents a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa".

They said the video "packages our continent as the backdrop for her romantic songs devoid of any African person or storyline, and she sets the video in a time when the people depicted by Swift and her co-stars killed, dehumanized and traumatized millions of Africans. That is beyond problematic."

Western European governments claimed control of almost all of Africa’s soil; the two largest colonial powers in Africa were France and Britain, dividing Africa as spoils of war. In the 1950s there were only three independent countries in Africa; Liberia, which had been founded by freed slaves and declared itself independent in 1847.  

Ethiopia, which was an ancient territory, and was never colonized by European powers and Egypt, which achieved independence in 1922. The questions remain why in 2015, would Kahn, Taylor Swifts video director chose to glamorize a love story in 1950s Africa during colonialism when black Africans were considered a surplus population?


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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My father and mother are historians of African culture and history and their influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

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