If you thought that a recent cover of Vogue magazine had a whiff of King Kong about it, consider the possibility that this month, Vanity Fair may have given Vogue a run for its money. Just remember that while words are subtler than pictures, they are no less suggestive.
I am a fan of Vanity Fair, and this column is therefore more difficult to write than usual. My column does not usually feature the issues I am about to discuss, but I felt that a digression, at present, was necessary.
Now, I didn’t get a hold of their April issue until recently, but once I did, I noticed that it features a story entitled “Prisoner of Kenya,” by veteran journalist Mark Seal. A potentially intriguing piece, correct?
It is intriguing indeed, but mostly for the wrong reasons.
The story centers on a wealthy white grand-grandson of “Kenya’s most prominent colonizer,” the third Baron Delamere who, the article says:
“virtually established Kenya for white settlement… After…the British government built railways, erected Nairobi, and forced the Masai tribesmen from their ancestral grazing lands to make way for white colonists, foremost of whom was Delamere.”
Meanwhile, the great-grandson in question, Thomas Patrick Gilbert Cholmondeley, was cleared after being accused the killing of one person before landing in jail again for the killing of another. Both victims were black Kenyans, from different tribes. From behind bars, Cholmondeley protests his innocence and insists both killings were accidental.
The prisoner is a polarizing figure in Kenya, and the fact that he walked free the first time around sparked outrage and protest. Now there is pressure on the Kenyan government to make sure Cholmondeley does not get away so easily.
Here’s a quote, taken from the body of the piece and splashed across a solemn picture of Cholmondeley to draw the reader in:
“If found guilty by the black judge who will decide his fate, Cholmondeley could face execution by handing.”
This immediately struck me as interesting. Why stress the point that the judge is black if not to freak out white people? Continue reading