Laugh, but Wisely


Carnival freedom – or not? Pastor Jean-Félix Belinga Belinga questioned the social function of humour when respect and empathy are missing.

In alien identities slip

In Darmstadt, I tried these days to find three weeks before the carnival weekend, an original costume. However, the staff in the store warned me: “A great selection there, unfortunately.” Empty-handed I had to draw a little later on and me first on the abundant stocked with carnival doughnuts comfort.

The carnival casts its shadow always already weeks before the actual date. He influences our shopping behavior as well as the activities in the educational institutions and the voluntary sector in the towns. This period is widely referred to as the “fifth Season”, is an indication that the rhythm of life in this period, under very different circumstances. It is the time of the exuberant, creative, fun, and allows it to slip for a short time in a foreign identity.

According to strong, colourful and dazzling and flashy customs of castles not only in the high-to the essential concomitants of the carnival. Here and there people celebrate the special time by a significant part of their annual holiday sacrifice. Bad weather deters little, high prices for beverages as little, if the carnival fun calls for it. A highlight of the parades through the cities of the interior. Then people in droves to line the streets to pay tribute to the creativity and the ingenuity of the individual clubs.

“Black facing” – a popular motif without reflection

Often contemporary society are presented as political issues, and well-known personalities. Some of the clubs and individuals but also to the likes of the colonial history for inspiration. They draw from a more-than-a-century-old pool. The appearance as an African, the so-called “black facing” is a popular motif. But not here, living in Europe football stars of African origin to be played. Well-known African politicians, or other representatives of the Elite of African societies can also not find. The favorite subject is the in the colonial period, widespread image of the savage African. Grass skirts or leopard fur, bone head, or bones chains around the neck, straw huts as homes, are among its characteristics. Submissive, subservient and docile, he has to be. To the amusement of his audience he appears to be a hat, occasionally with a Carnival. Probably the Situation settle better in the colonial era, is often presented African people in colonial uniform surround.

This is one of the carnival traditions, I could understand, even today, never. It is a question as to whether people know in this country really so little about the colonial period, that they Menden, of all things, these shameful low-point in the history of Europe connect in relation to Africa, Asia and South America with a sense of Humor. The Serenity that is meant to be, if Humor is the speech, stands in stark contrast to the fact that the colonial rule between the 1880s and the first world war, grew on the basis of racist, dehumanising Teaching. Here is also ignored is that in this era, a deficient image of man was established, which put a whole continent in a colonial identity. The Africans*have to live with this identity today. An identity, however, in the grief, anger, and resentment are deeply rooted, and the development of positive future prospects difficult. With a sense of Humor, in this section of the history of Europeans is discussed, it is shown Africans*inside difficult, to laugh with. And the mimes of colonial content on the carnival awakens suddenly with the impression that it is laughing as Africans*in by those who have pressed a colonial identity.

Sense of Humor – but please with respect and empathy

The Humor is certainly a basic need of the people. Be attributed to him positive psychological properties. So he can work on an individual in crisis situations strategically and increase strength. Socially messed-up situations with the help of humor to solve. Understanding and communication are again set in motion. However, the Humor seems to be a seamless Terrain, as there are clear ethical standards can hardly be identified. Exactly this fact forces us, to our sense of humour. Respect and empathy are not, when we mimic others, then our sense of Humor has lost its social function. If he does then a good service is very questionable.


To Jean-Félix Belinga Belinga:

In 1956, in Südkamerun born and raised,

  • Author, Journalist and pastor
  • Married and the father of three children
  • Study of Protestant theology in Erlangen (Bayern)
  • Currently: lecturer for intercultural Learning in the centre for Ecumenism of the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau, the Evangelical Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck.