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Tintin in the Congo
Tintin au Congo

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By Jack Anderson on July 7, 2019

I probably read Tintin in the Congo a hundred times. Out of the 22 canonical books (excluding Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin and the Alph-Art), I was missing 10 books. Don’t tell me why my family never bought me those books, as I was an avid reader of Tintin. But that’s another question and now, twenty years after, I have all of them.

The book is made for kids. It is a clear continuation of the style from Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, in the sense of Tintin going abroad but not facing any kind of real enigma or mystery. There is no crime to solve, nor real adventure. The adventure is the location.

Published in 1931, between the two wars, the album is a testimony of perhaps not the reality, but a view from abroad of colonization. Therefore, Hergé, who had not traveled to the country, drew what he thought was the paternalistic colonialism from Belgium. Of course, when read today, one can only be appalled by the depiction of the locals. The black people have gigantic lips and talk in a very illiterate way. What is ironic is that the animals speak better than the locals – and not only Snowy (Milou), but also the monkeys. So, if the monkeys are more humans than the black people, that says a lot and it is no surprise that this album is referred as offering a racist view of the world.
At one point, Tintin inadvertently destroys a locomotive. And what does he do? He commands the passengers to roll up their sleeves and fix the train.

But the album is not only controversial for the so-called racist content. The second negative aspect is how Tintin is dealing with animals... This is really a hecatomb. Tintin is decimating the forest, killing everything that moves. At one point, he keeps shooting at animals. Later on, he kills a chimpanzee, in order to wear his body... He puts explosives in some other animals, etc.

Still, what I really like is that at the end of the book, we know that Tintin will go to Chicago, as the real threat from this album was actually coming from beyond the Atlantic, Al Capone. That was a nice way to close the album.
But when you actually come to think of it, Tintin was nowhere near threatening the production of diamond in Congo. On the contrary, he was spending his time shooting animals... so the story is more than thin in that regards.

I give it 3 out of 10. Bad.

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