Sex at Dawn

Exploring the evolutionary origins of modern sexuality

Obama British Africa

Obama British Africa pub: fantastic or despicable?

We watched Obama's inauguration at a place called "Obama British Africa" here in Barcelona (The local Hard Rock Cafe didn't think it was worth the trouble to show it on their TVs. Apparently cheap reproductions of Marilyn Monroe's shoes are more "American" than Obama's swearing in). It's a new place that just opened a couple of months ago. As an expression of this historical moment, it would be hard to beat the place for its bizarre mixture of historical hyper-awareness and utter obliviousness.

What do I mean?

Well first, the place is set up like a British gentleman's club from 19th century Kenya. The walls are covered with photos of British officer types with elaborate moustaches wearing pith helmets (to protect from falling pith?) and khaki outfits with way too many pockets. You know the type: great white hunters.

There are African sculptures all over the place, batik tapestries, leather-bound chairs ... even the ceiling fan blades are covered in a zebra skin design. The place is intense.

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So, let's get this straight. We've got a pub that is a celebration of British colonial rule in Africa, named after the first African American president, whose grandfather was thrown into prison and tortured by the British because he rebelled against colonialism. Have I got that about right?

What's next, Mandela's Apartheid Inn? Mai Lai Vietnamese Cuisine?

I honestly don't know whether it's fantastic or despicable, but in honor of Obama's calm and inclusive approach to things, I think I'll opt for finding it amusing and let it go at that, as long as they don't hire all black staff...

Christopher Ryan, Ph.D., is co-author of Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality (HarperCollins 2010).

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