An event organised by sober morning ravers Morning Gloryville has been called out for cultural appropriation. The event last Wednesday was themed 'Motherland Africa' but has been criticised online for being attended by a mainly white crowd in fancy dress inspired by the theme.
The focus for criticism is an hour-long Facebook live stream of the event – which shows various members of the crowd wearing leopard print, dressing as animals, wearing tribal headscarves, carrying drums and dressing as ancient Egyptians. One woman is seen wearing two bananas on a string around her neck. The stage is seen to be decorated with a huge inflatable slice of watermelon, while behind the decks, DJ CousCous drops mash-ups of the theme from ‘The Lion King’. It sounds made-up, but it’s genuinely not.
The live stream drew criticism from commenters who pointed out that the event was racially insensitive and culturally appropriative. One commenter writes: ‘So nothing even slightly eyebrow raising about a predominantly white group of people giving their interpretation of a huge and varied continent of people who their ancestors colonised and enslaved? Righty ho.’
Another posted: ‘Yes, because the spirit of Africa is dancing on stage to electro-house whilst shouting ‘it's conga time’ for a Facebook live video.’ Others called for an apology. One commenter wrote: ‘This is the WORST form of cultural appropriation I have EVER seen! Please do not paste 'Motherland Africa' on your event for people to dance to dance to drum ’n’ bass and dress up as animals! CHANGE THE NAME OF THIS EVENT AND ISSUE A PUBLIC APOLOGY’. And another simply calls the event a ‘fucking hot racist mess’.
Sam, the founder of Morning Gloryville has since issued an apology on Facebook. You can read it in full below:
‘Thank you so much for sharing your feelings with such honesty and passion. We’d like to apologise for the offence that some people are feeling around our African themed event. It was intended as a salutation and celebration of Africa, The Motherland. I created Morning gloryville to bring people together regardless of their cultural origins or beliefs, united in spirit.
‘As a black/brown lesbian, born and raised in Zimbabwe, I have experienced the alienation, suffering and depression of discrimination. Our dream is a world without borders. Different cultures celebrating each other is a step towards unity from one perspective.
‘Within our community and the global community we practice different religions and come from different parts of the world. For years we have taught each other our respective rituals. We listen to music from everywhere and receive dance inspiration from all the continents.
‘The Morning Gloryville team are an international family from different parts of the world. We work tirelessly and are devoted to celebration. We work towards unity and liberation through music and dance. We explore different themes and ways of finding meaning, community, belonging. We are human beings.
‘We want a world that is harmonious, a world without racism or segregation and one where we are more free, loved, and accepted. It's beautiful that we all feel protective about Africa. We are expressing this love in different ways here:
‘1. We, the organisers, were saluting and even called Africa “the Motherland” out of respect and in celebration.
‘2. The people in the video turned up to an event for celebration and with good intention.
‘3. The comments in this thread are a mix of people supporting the event and some feeling protective over Africa and appropriation.
‘What positivity could we create together? A deeper look shows commonality. We're coming in from different perspectives and are all humans. We really appreciate this dialogue and it’s one that is teaching us so much already. We’re trying to create more togetherness in the world through our events and are dedicated to exploring this further.’