WATCH | Artist cleanses Donald Trump after ‘s**thole’ comment

20 February 2018 - 16:39 By Petru Saal

The sight of a man whipping‚ shouting at and pouring water over a life-sized replica of US President Donald Trump startled passersby in the Cape Town CBD on Tuesday.

Some stared in disbelief. Most whipped out cellphones to capture the spectacle on video.

Little did they know that they had front row “seats” to acclaimed Nigerian artist Jelili Atiku’s world premiere of his "Jangbala Jubu” or “How to Explain History to American President" performance.

The performance was inspired by reports of how Trump‚ in January‚ at a meeting with lawmakers concerning immigration‚ described African nations and Haiti as “s**thole countries”. The comment sparked outrage worldwide.

Atiku arrived in the US in January on a fellowship and two days into his stay‚ Trump’s comments were publicised.

“When you know what s**t means‚ when you say somebody comes from s**t‚ nobody wants to talk to the person. It is smelly. How can you compare a whole continent with a lot of civilisation to that‚” he asked after his performance.

“America was built by the black people through the slave trade‚ you are rubbishing all the pains that my ancestors went through‚” said Atiku.

He immediately knew that he had to incorporate it into a performance and on Tuesday‚ many long hours of conceptualisation and rehearsals played out on the sidewalk.

At one point during the performance‚ Atiku handed out scissors to the crowd and beckoned them to cut the clothes off the Trump figure. Many jumped at the offer.

The live art performance was watched by office workers on their lunch break and people walking by.

Director at the Institute for creative arts at UCT Jay Pather said this type of performance served to highlight topical issues for an audience that may not be well versed on current affairs.

“This performance represents what live art is about because it connects with so much - with political ideas‚ political crises and political statements.”

Pather explained that Atiku’s performance was based on a cleansing ritual. At one point water was thrown over “Trump”. A Bible was tied to his neck and the Quran placed at his feet.

“What I like about Jelili’s work is that it is uncompromising. He doesn’t try to explain too much. I think one felt the electricity when he started. I don’t think people are used to that. We have big statements to make and as you can see our audience was interested‚” said Pather.