Born in Africa to French wildlife photographer parents, Tippi Degré had a most unusual childhood. The young girl grew up in the African desert and developed an uncommon bond with many untamed animals including a 28-year old African elephant named Abu, lion cubs, giraffes, an Ostrich, a mongoose, crocodiles, a baby zebra, a cheetah, giant bullfrogs, and even a snake. Africa was her home for many years and Tippi became friends with the ferocious animals and tribes people of Namibia. Parents Alain Degré and Sylvie Robert documented Tippi’s life and relationships with the African wildlife and transformed those moments into captivating books and movies. Tippi of Africa, published in 1998, told Tippi’s story of she and her parents. You can see more photos and videos here.
"Born in Africa" yes she was born on the entire continent all at once
"grew up in the African desert" there is only one desert in Africa and it doesn’t have a name, so everyone refers to it as the African desert
"Africa was her home" THE ENTIRE CONTINENT
"ferocious animals and tribes people of Namibia" ooh ferocious animals AND tribes people? how exotic! but at least we’ve nailed down a country
"African wildlife" she was besties with all the animals on the continent
"Tippi of Africa" i’m done
smdh. Oh white people…
This “Tippi of Africa” child has been making the rounds on facebook, and what I found revolting was how “cute” people thought the whole thing was. White people fawning over nonsense like this is no surprise. This type of Tarzan/George of the Jungle, Africa is the land of ferocious tribes and beasts appeals to white people who aren’t interested in understanding any aspect of Africa as a continent or the people in it. They prefer colonial fantasies full of wild, ferocious things which describe both the people and the creatures in their minds.
The rub is that no matter how fierce and ferocious those people and beasts are, they must yield to whiteness. Their ferociousness is tamed when whiteness invades their space. In fact, these wild creatures want nothing more than to bond with whiteness. Why even an African hunter is teaching the child his ferocious tactics in the bush, like he is imparting wisdom to the next generation. Naturally, Tippi is next in line to control the reins of the bush. Recognize the symbolism in that. It’s usually presented this way. These otherwise ferocious creatures all want to be friends with this white person who has invaded their space. No one asked Tippi to be there, but they are grateful for her presence. She enriched their otherwise savage lives by bonding with them. It is presented as sweet and endearing, when it is the height of exploitation. To someone with a colonialist mindset, this is cute and wholesome.
I’ve come to expect this type of thing from white people who take jaunts in Africa. Even when they intend to be respectful and reverential, they end up being paternalistic and they will fall back to reductive depictions of Africa because a reductive Africa works in their best interests. A multifaceted and nuanced Africa is of no benefit to them. White people won’t read a book about Tippi respecting Africans, her parents not referring to her as “Tippi of Africa”, and not referring to the specific place she was raised as the “the African Desert”, or putting the poor child in danger by raising her with wild animals. They want savages and wild animals. They always otherize Africa and Africans. When one thinks this way, Africa becomes a monolithic land mass, and they will say things like “the African Desert”, as if there is just one, or like it makes sense. That kind of statement can only be uttered by someone with a colonialist mindset.
If you produce work like “Tippi of Africa” or think this type of thing is in any way honorable, then you don’t respect Africans or recognize their full humanity. Africa and Africans are the playthings in this fantasy. Africa and all it entails is merely a backdrop for this child’s parents to carry out their colonialist fantasies via their child. Not only is it highly disrespectful to Africa and Africans, this whole ordeal is child abuse. Tippi didn’t come out of the womb asking to fraternize with wild animals. They put this little girl in grave danger. For what? Pictures? Books? Movies? They ought to be ashamed of using their child in this manner.