Blackface Zwarte Piet visits soldiers on UN Mali mission
Dutch soldiers on a United Nations mission in Mali got a visit from Sinterklaas and two Zwarte Piets in their traditional blackface makeup on Monday, according to a photo the Ministry of Defense posted on Twitter.
The irony of the Netherlands taking blackface makeup to Africa did not escape Twitter users, many of whom reacted with outrage. "That is one fat racist middle finger by Defense. Scandalous level", one commented. "In an African country? For shame", said another. "Dutch department of defense dress as blackpete in Mali Africa. Spreading their backward culture around the globe", said another. "Very colonial to show such a picture in an African country. This is really quite irresponsible." And: "What a fuck are you doing?! Oh my god. This is too disgusting for words."
So far the United Nations has not responded to the Dutch soldiers' visitors. Last year a committee appointed by the United Nations called Zwarte Piet racist, stereotypical and a vestige of slavery.
A total of 400 Dutch soldiers are in the African nation as part of the UN's Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The Dutch troops are the "eyes and ears" of the mission, with their main goal being gathering information. MINUSMA was started in 2013 after Tuareg rebels and Al-Qaeda lined fundamentalist fighters attacked Bamako, the country's capital.