‘Picaninnies’ | Boris Johnson on Africa

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

Four statements by the new British Minister of Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson on Africa:

In Uganda: ‘Right, let’s go and look at some more piccanninies'(The Observer, October 5 2003)

On the African Commonwealth: ‘The Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag waving picanninnies.’ (Daily Telegraph, January 10 2002)

On Blair visiting Africa: ‘The pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelin smiles to see the big white chief.’ (Daily Telegraph, January 10 2002)

On defending colonialism: ‘Left to their own devices, the natives would rely on nothing but the instant carbhydrate gratification of the plantain.’ (Spectator 2 February 2002)

Well, Boris likes the word piccaninnies. I wasn’t born hundred years ago so I didn’t know the meaning. Wikipedia helps, as usual:

Pickaninny is a term in English which refers to a racist and derogatory caricature of dark-skinned children of African descent. It is a pidgin word form, which may be derived from the Portuguese pequenino (a diminutive version of the wordpequeno, “little”). In modern sensibility, the term implies a caricature which can be used in a derogatory and racist sense.