OPPOsite

Opposite nr 1

Mniejszości narodowe i etniczne w sztuce polskiej po 1945 roku. "Dla ciebie chcę być biała"

Patrycja Piróg / Murzynek Bambo w Afryce mieszka ["Bambo the Black child lives in Africa"], or how the Polish culture created its Negro.

Bambo the Black child, who is an African character from Julian Tuwim's rhyme, is a stranger who wreaks havoc in the social consciousness of Poles. Has history altered the meaning of this inoffensive rhyme in which the phrase koleżka Bambo [our pal Bambo] is now a contemptuous epithet directed to Africans studying in Poland? Or is it that Tuwim's rhyme has acquired negative connotations due to the fact that it has been liable to have them from the start? This harmful simplistic portrayal of Black people emerging from a couple of basic plates fixed for ages and adopted from our European neighbours is to a large extent still present in journalistic discourse, for instance. The symbolic character of Bambo the Black child/Bambo the little Negro is becoming inconvenient and will probably need to be dispensed with before long. Certainly, the present paper, which purpose is merely to outline the existing problem, does not aim at achieving this goal. Basing on the ethnographic paradigm, the instances of the presence of Blacks in Polish texts are numerous. Following the social, political, and economic transformations, the depiction of Blacks has likewise undergone changes, as exemplified by Tuwim's rhyme and Henryk Sienkiewicz's novel In Desert and Wilderness. As expected, art reacts to these changes. However, since the negative depiction of Blacks is still so deeply rooted in the consciousness of Poles, the question whether works of African Poles will find their place in Polish art scene seems to be urgent.