Africa Utopia and London’s “Festival of the World with Mastercard”

The London Olympics starts tonight and certain streets of the city are swollen with purple-shirted volunteers, track-suited athletes and tourists.┬áIn Hyde Park, the continent of Africa has been reincarnated as ‘Africa Village’ and ‘Africa Land’; the emphasis is on colour and diversity, mass acceptance of bland positivisms, but the whole event feels mainly about corporate sponsorship. The views are familiar from world fairs in Europe’s colonial capitals, but a different kind of colonizing force is dilligently at work. The ‘renovation’ of London’s east end in advance of the Olympics has been accused of the destruction of historic buildings and common land, the displacement of working-class neighbourhoods in the inscrutable advance of gentrification. Continue reading