Issue #216 (Colonialism, Race): “His Hyena Fetish”


“His Hyena Fetish”   

   THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT THE WAY THE DARKNESS ENVELOPED THE ORANGE OF THE HEAVY SUN THAT MADE HIM TINGLE. The sweat on his forehead in the tent glistened against the fire of the lamp and he wished he was as black as the pins that sunk through canvas to soil. The people and homes washed into a blackness that pulled at his fetish.

       Woke again by the hyena laughing. The exoticism of their foreign sound sets the lines of their beauty against the sunset- their shoulders cut the yellowing sky with an Otherness as do the squints when barbarians listen to me speak the Queen’s English.

The man in his tent had carved a life around his fetish: to watch: he wrote about people while sitting in their kitchens, and had the unique reputation of having pioneered the largest joke ever played on the West: to label someone inhuman because of their foreignness, as you imposed yourself as a foreigner in their world.

The hyena laughed.


Sharpened laughter of the hyena excited him: he felt in the pack, tearing a limb, tasting blood with a group of friends.

That was it: white supremacist prose aside, his fetish to document others was underlined by his lack of friends at home. It was so much easier to say everyone else was stupid and that you still had no friends when they didn’t speak your language.


HE SOLD HIS PRESENCE IN THE TENT AS A BLESSING TO THE COMMUNITY RATHER THAN THE TRUTH OF HIS COLONIAL EXPLOITATION OF THEIR WORLD. The guilt free philosophy sold well with his all-white audiences, yet praise from the armchair colonialist followers did nothing for him: they were too white: he couldn’t laugh at the way they spoke, or account for his awkwardness by citing ‘civilizational differences:’ he had to be himself. He preferred a conversation where you likened the other to an interesting dog.

His voyeur fetish was justified by transforming humans to dogs: he felt his awkwardness was invisible, based on the idea that language was the only window to the soul, and that the people who watched him as he sat in their kitchens, or watched them pee, could not tell who he was by the way that he sat, or how his face crinkled when he laughed.   

word by Liam Lachance

colour by Jasmine Okorougo

Author: Word and Colour

words inspired by colour

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