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Norway to Re-stage Historical ‘Human Zoo’ that Exhibits Africans Like Animals



Norway Human Zoo Bella Naija 1

Africans in the 1914 “Human zoo”

Norway will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of its constitution next month. To commemorate the event, the country’s government is opening a “human zoo” to re-enact an  exhibition that took place in the colonial era during the 1914 Norway World Fair, where Africans were exhibited as though they were animals.

Organizers of the “human zoo” re-enactment say they have chosen to embark on the project to enable important discussions about the legacy of colonialism and racism.

However, this planned re-enactment  has sparked outrage worldwide. Many have said the exhibition is degrading and will be humiliating to Africans worldwide and may cause racial stereotyping to become even more rampant.

The 1914 “human zoo,”which was open for 5 months, contained 80 Senegalese people. Norwegians at the time, paid to visit the exhibition and stare at the Africans living in palm-roof structures and conducting their daily routine of making handicrafts, cooking, and eating.

Other western countries like the US, France, Belgium, and Germany also had such zoos during the colonial era.

Exhibiting Africans as uncivilized, primitive, animalistic beings  reportedly helped convince westerners that colonisation was justified.

Belgium Human Zoo

African girl being fed by spectators at a human zoo at the 1958 Brussels World Fair in Belgium

Photo Credit:


Bella Naijarians, what do you think about a human zoo being re-enacted by Norway? Is it a harmless project as the organizers say? Or is it an insult to Africans. Let’s talk about it!


  1. Nwachidinma

    April 30, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    It is an insult! It should not re-enacted . For what? Instead they can do a constructive documentary on how dumb some white people are to think that Blacks are not humans.

  2. polished crown

    April 30, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    insult to Africans

  3. iyke

    April 30, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    It’s sad that this beautiful country that I have come to love is about to embark on this retrogressive initiative that will only open up the wounds of slavery.It’s a NO for me …..

  4. Ides of March

    April 30, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Lord give me strength!! Where does one begin?! Yes how about we talk about something that is so degrading and has been the cause of so much pain to so many (racism and slavery) by capturing and caging the very same people who have been wounded by racism and slavery throughout history. Yes this should really knock the earth back onto it’s axis!!! I don’t speak Yoruba but ko ni da fu won!!

  5. chikita

    April 30, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    its an insult. Simple

  6. gbemi

    April 30, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    that is the problem, they av always and might always see Africans as slaves, You can imagine, a human zoo!! it must never be allowed!!!, av travelled around and all I can say is apart from our skin colour, all humans are the same!!!

  7. zelda

    April 30, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Kai,white man na shegE, can u imagine?


    April 30, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    i dont know why white people cant just leave blacks alone. if their daughter was marrying a rich BLACK FOOTBALL PLAYEr they wud be all smiles. they are filled with such hate in their hearts. I think these past few days should be a lesson to Black people. you are not loved or Respected. its time we BUILD africa. i dont care how many biracial children we give birth to, things have not changed.

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      April 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      My sister, THE THING REALLY TIRE ME. As in, leave us alone, dem no gree. From our skin oh, to our hair oh, to our cultural behaviour oh. Dem say all these things dey disgusting to them oh, and yet they cannot leave us alone?

      Why are these people so fascinated by the black people they claim to be superior to, I wonder? We no send you, you never understand that one yet? And yet you send us pass anything. You carried yourselves to Africa to go and rampage the continent beginning from the early 1600s. You carried slaves away, e no do you. You thief our property, e no do you. You returned to colonize us, e still no do you. Even till now, you go abuse Africa and yet (3rd world, abi?), you still will not leave the Africa of a place alone. Your hand still dey there dey find wetin again we get wey you fit take. WHAT IS GUMMING YOU TO THESE THIRD WORLD SAVAGES, NA? Leave us alone ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. We no even dey interested in una, abi e dey pain you?

      I mean, I tire. Just finished reading “12 years a slave”, the book that the movie is based on and if you read Solomon Northop’s real account (leave that thing wey Chinwetel been dey act there inside Hollywood movie)… if you read the actual re-telling of events during those 12 years that man spent as a slave… after finishing it, I had to stringently force my spirit not to automatically bear hatred for all white people. Just leave us alone, is it so hard????????????

    • jeff

      January 27, 2015 at 10:22 am

      Exactly….instead of whining about it,we should make Africa the best place…it is almost 400 hundred years and they are not going to change soon..

  9. True Talk

    April 30, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Norway, you will never cease to surprise me. HOW in any way shape or form can this be a good idea?? See what suppression at the hands of Danes and Swedes has done to you. Always looking for the “less superior”.

  10. corolla

    April 30, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Awon oloriburuku

  11. ShockedOne

    April 30, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Kai. We don suffer. That this was still happening in 1958 is amazing. No wonder an 80 yr old like Don Sterling feels the way he does. They presented us this way long after he reached adulthood.

  12. deb

    April 30, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Aye awon eniyan wonyi tita.African leaders should rise to the interest of Africans but where do we start from?, religious war, tribal war, tribal supremacy. GOD please lift the curse placed on africa.

  13. Honeydrop

    April 30, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    I weep. Kode ni Dafun won like ides of march said.

  14. AA

    May 1, 2014 at 12:03 am

    These whites are declaring a race war and we in Africa are still kissing their behinds. Just look at the way we run after expats, pray to marry white guys, rip the hair out of our skulls just to wear weaves, give ourselves cancer to have white skin, etc. We need to start loving ourselves, putting tribalism and religious bigotry aside and fight our leaders to do the right thing. We need to stop focusing on materialistic acquisitions and start building ourselves. Black people need to get it together. Its time.

    My two cents, don’t like it, tough!!!!

  15. hopeful nigerian

    May 1, 2014 at 12:09 am

    Do research before posting news
    Two Norwegian artists are about to walk a very fine line between art and racism by restaging a “human zoo” next month to confront the country’s past. Staged for Norway’s bicentennial, artists Mohamed Ali Fadlabi and Lars Cuzner will recreate the “Kongolandsbyen” (or Congo Village), the 1914 exhibition in Oslo that featured 80 Senagalese people surrounded by “African artifacts” as they lived their everyday lives under palm-roof cabins, as Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire reports at This Is Africa. (A video from the 1914 Kongolandsbyen can be seen here.)

  16. ao

    May 1, 2014 at 3:11 am

    So, who came up with this brilliant idea?

  17. chimi

    May 1, 2014 at 10:33 am

    its this projets a brillant idea? hope u are not one them who want to exhibit black as animal in a human zoo, ao. the proof is that you white first of all are animals becos since u ‘ve never realised blacks are human beings.this is terrible. and u whites keep on sleeping with animals so in your imagination animals are human beings.God created human being in different race as one ,black and white. this is telling God that he made a mistake to create black too. He will judge all of white who are racist.the better u repend else the wrath of God is upon u whites.

  18. xtsy

    May 1, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Fela’s Africa – centre of the world always consoles me

  19. Author Unknown

    May 1, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Before we rush into making emotional conclusions, do we know in what context this story is being told? How do you tell history without including the negative? That would make it an incomplete story, which defeats the purpose. And don’t let me have to remind you of the role Africans themselves played in slavery. My opinion is that Africans and blacks need to love and appreciate themselves a little better, instead of waiting on Caucasians to validate you. This way, not every little act of racism (which no doubt is ignorant and ugly) will get to you. History should always be told as it happened no matter how unpopular.

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