Stingray – 28. In Search of the Tajmanon

I wouldn’t call myself a particularly scholarly author. I’m more suited to sniggering when a puppet goes cross-eyed or pointing out when a prop gets reused for the eight-billionth time. But, this week, in addition to my usual nonsense, I am going to put some modest effort into contextualising the decolonisation of Africa and its impacts on popular culture in the 1960s, because I think In Search of the Tajmanon provides some fascinating insights on the subject. I’m not an expert, but it goes without saying that the world was watching when 17 African nations gained their independence from European power in the year 1960, with many others following suit across the decade. The news in the mid-20th Century would have been chock full of Africa’s progress towards liberation from imperialist power. So, it’s not surpsing that western media reacted in a couple of different ways. They might have romanticised or gently glossed over imperialism (1951’s The African Queen, for example), or go the other way and start to celebrate African culture and heritage which was coming to prominence for the first time. It’s also worth noting that the epic British war film, Zulu, premiered in January 1964, depicting the Battle of Rorke’s Drift between the British Army and the Zulus in 1879. Around the same time, in early 1964, In Search of the Tajmanon was set to go before the cameras at the AP Films studio in Slough.