Monday, March 21, 2016

Ota Benga - SPECTACLE

Yesterday, March 20, 2016, marked the 100th anniversary of Ota Benga's suicide.  Ota, a young Congolese "pygmy," was captured by slavers in Africa, but American explorer Samuel Phillips Verner bought Ota's freedom and convinced Ota to return with him to America.

In the United States, Ota was featured in an anthropology exhibit at the St. Louis World's Fair.  Two years later, the New York Zoological Gardens displayed him in its Monkey House, caging the slight 103-pound, 4-foot 11-inch man with an orangutan.  Years later, the dehumanization and subsequent depression Ota suffered drove him to ultimately take his own life.

You can read Ota Benga's full story in Pamela Newkirk's Spectacle.  Read a sample here.

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