So, There’s a Human Zoo in Norway

People attend the opening of the re-created Congo Village exhibition, in Oslo, Norway.
People attend the opening of the re-created Congo Village exhibition, in Oslo, Norway. –AP

Oh, Norway.

Most countries might celebrate the birthdays of their constitutions by throwing a parade or setting off some fireworks.

But not you.

In Norway, apparently, there’s no better way to celebrate the 200th birthday of your country’s constitution than by setting up a human zoo.

The Daily Beast reports that Norway opened an “attraction’’ 100 years ago featuring Senegalese villagers living in grass huts.

The disturbing display, incorrectly dubbed “Congo Village,’’ was created as a way to gain public support for colonialism.

Over 1.4 million visitors came to stare at the inhabitants.

Now, the Congo Village has reopened once more under the name “European Attraction Limited,’’ thanks to two artists in Norway who wanted to “challenge the 2014 celebration’’ by reminding fellow Norwegians that racism and intolerance are still present in their society.


Mohamed Ali Fablai, a Norwegian-Sudanese, and Lars Cuzner, a Swede, have recruited 300 volunteers so far to dwell in the re-created huts, which will remain open through August.

Many people aren’t too happy with the controversial human zoo, since the purpose of the display could be misconstrued. Though the artists said they aim to “challenge what they see as an increasingly xenophobic continent,’’ some, like the chairman of Norway’s Centre against Racism, told The Daily Beast he thinks, “the only ones who will enjoy this are those with racist attitudes.’’

On the artists’ website, they warn potential volunteers that their project has already caused some backlash in the media, saying, “You will most likely be asked to defend your participation,’’ and “This project is heavily critiqued by a group of people in Norway.’’

So, if you’re feeling a little “Heart of Darkness,’’ you empathize with the artists’ goal, or if you just like the idea of living on display in a grass hut for free, you can register here. Sure some members of the media might pummel you for it, but rest assured that Joseph Conrad would probably be proud.

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