Trinidad & Tobago: Akon Controversy Continues

The recent scandal involving US hip-hop artist Akon brutally gyrating on a 15-year-old Trinidadian girl at the island's popular Zen nightclub has taken both the mainstream media and the blogosphere by storm – mere hours after the incident took place, the video was on YouTube – not to mention scores of blogs, many of which have been enjoying more hits than usual.

In a bid to stem the already extensive and continuous coverage of the event, the teenager’s family is seeking to legally bar the media from further publishing photos and the girl’s name, as she is a minor. Club Zen has apologized for the incident. But apologies have not appeased some bloggers, who remain outraged about the whole episode.

The Modest Goddess has seen the video and is

“not sure what’s more disturbing – the girl being flung and dragged around the stage, legs twisted into varying positions to facilitate his act until he abandons her crumpled on the floor? Or the cheering of the crowd, the roaring approval of the crowd, the screaming, clapping, appreciative crowd. The same crowd that now stands in judgement of what happened.”

She is also concerned about the fact that

“on the various blogs on which it appears, comments are being left that use the most derogatory of insults. The girl…has been universally labeled a ho. It reminds me of the age old excuses given for rape – she wanted it, she asked for it, she enjoyed it, she was dressed like a ho, hell, she is a ho.”

Disparaging comments were also the reason that Caribbean Public Relations decided to back away from the issue:

“I've deleted the post about the indecent dance between Akon and the 15-year-old girl, which has garnered this site at least 4,840 hits in just one week. Now one would think that I'd be ecstatic over this jump in readership. I'm not.”

In response to the Trinidad Express interview with the girl's father, The Manicou Report voiced his opinion on the behaviour of both parties:

“I don't know what you'd call that barely-there red top, matching heels, low-rider jeans and lower back tattoo, but “innocent” isn't the word that comes to mind. She's wearing a crucifix though, so I guess it's all OK. Secondly, Akon. There's not much I can say for Akon except that I'm more than just a little disgusted. I don't think I have ever seen anything more dehumanizing being passed off as entertainment. To see a big strong man like Akon treat another woman like a hump toy without any regards to her personal safety is appalling to me.”

By contrast, Colonise This! says:

“What is at issue here for me is not what Danah was wearing or the fact that she was underage, nor is it the practice of performers inviting members of the audience up on the stage to “wine” with them. What is at issue is what this affair represents: the consistent and constant erosion of social, moral, intellectual boundaries, that moves people of African ancestry closer and closer to the animal kingdom and makes us less and less recognisable as sentient and thinking beings.”

Afrobella is also disturbed by the racial implications:

“So then this Akon thing happens, and I can’t look away from the comments pages. And I find the same ignorant beliefs being spouted again and again. ‘This is a part of Caribbean culture, get over it.’ ‘That’s how they dance in Trini.’ ‘Those Caribbean girls get down like that.’ And all of the old school disses delivered to dark skinned people that you might expect…Yes, scandalous dancing is celebrated throughout the Caribbean, all you need to do is do a You Tube search for ‘dutty wine’ or ‘dancehall queen’ to find an array of NSFW videos of women getting down on all fours to degrade themselves. But Akon took it to a whole ‘nother level.”

The incident has sparked considerable discussion over what has become a basic tenet of Caribbean culture – wining. Barbadian blogger Eemanee at What crazy looks like agrees that Akon…

“was perhaps a bit over-zealous and dishonest (there being no trip to Africa) but just how does his performance differ from that of many of our Caribbean performers or your average drunken revellers at Crop Over or Carnival; or that of the dancers in the latest passa passa video? If Akon has disrespected us it means we have been disrespecting ourselves for quite a long time.”

But Caymanian Mad Bull saw nothing out of the ordinary in Akon's behaviour, making the point that many of the region's soca stars behave in a similar fashion onstage. Gallimaufry disagrees:

“I’ve been to plenty (well, enough) fetes and soca/reggae shows and I’ve seen revellers at Kadooment and thing, so believe me, I’ve seen raunchy, but that isn’t just raunchy, that is brutal and scary.”

Posting from Trinidad, Dre at Allyuh.com was just as appalled at what he calls “Akon's Party Politics, producing a comprehensive roundup of politicians’ (including the country's Prime Minister) comments on the issue:

“Patrick Manning is now looking into the issue, pointing fingers in Zen’s direction and asking for the nation to forgive Danah:

‘I have taken very careful notice of this matter and the owner of Zen owes it to the public to take responsibility. I will be interfacing with Zen because that kind of thing should never be allowed to happen in this country.

‘The owner (of Club Zen) should not be allowed to have such a kind of scene, (and) the public should forgive Danah.'”

Meanwhile, Trinidad Carnival Diary reports that Club Zen has been shut down indefinitely on the heels of another unsavoury incident involving a music star – but
Trinidad and Tobago News Blog reports that the closure was short-lived, perhaps making Genie X‘s comment about Akon all the more relevant:

“But what of Akon? He was deceitful, egotistical, misogynistic, disrespectful and contemptuous. What price has he paid for his behaviour? What have been the repercussions of acting like an animal? Well, the only one I have seen so far, is that his record label has rallied to protect its ‘investment’, by attempting to hide the evidence of his despicable acts by having it removed from You Tube. Any and every behaviour by black people against black people is okey-dokey with them as long as the music keeps selling. Beyond this one disheartening act, there is the loud and eloquent sound of silence.”

35 comments

  • wineandroses

    As a caribbean national I am shocked and horryfied at akon’s behaviour and comments that have been made that insuate that all caribbean persons condone this type of outragious behaviour. First of all, while the girl should not have been in the club the management of the club had a responsibility to ensure that all patrons of the club are indeed of age. Secondly, Akon lied to the crowd, and disrespected the young lady, treating like an old rag doll. Akon’s glorified apology was only made after he lost sponsership of his tour next month and was insincere and acted as a vehicle for akon to pass the buck to the owners of the zen night club. He should be charged!

  • T

    First of all i want to say is that everyone needs to stop placing all the blame on akon because this little girl who everyone seems to think is the victim is just as guility as he is. I place more of the blame on her than i do on him for the fact that she knew she was underage but still proceded on going on the stage and not even bothering to mention to him that she was not of legal age, and for her to be wining on him as well it is clearly shown that she enjoyed every moment of it, then tried to act as though she was hurt when she realized that this would be shown all over the world. Everyone needs to stop acting like they have not seen something like this happen, cuz it is shown all throughout music videos on how these women are treated but they don’t care cuz they want the fame and money. If u r to pay any attention to some of akon videos and listen to his lyrics such as pot of gold u would see that he is a very sincere person. Some of his other videos like smack that and i wanna luv u this girl can not say that she did not know wat was about to go down on that stage. One last thing everybody needs to get their story straight cuz some of ya r saying that she was 14, 15, and 16 next thing some one gone say she was 18 and then noone can say anything about akon because she is of “LEAGL” age.Every one needs to back up off of him and start directing all their so called rage towards that girl and her actions and he “CHRISTIAN PARENTS”!!!!!!!!!!

  • oseye

    WELL HERE’S THE DEAL, THERE ARE TWO VIDEO’S IN CIRCULATION.
    ONE OF AKON’S DANCE AND THERE IS ANOTHER VIDEO.
    the second video is of Danah actually taking part in the dancing competition, the guy took it on a mobile phone , and you can see he was trying to tape all the contestants but keeps on straying back to danah simply because, IF YOU SEE HOW THE GIRL WAS WINING AND BEHAVING, and the funny thing is, this was taped by somebody who didnt even know who the winner would be, or even who the girl was, it was just a taping of the xompetition, but all the rest of the OLDER AND MORE MATURE GIRLS wining but when you DANAH on stage you had to ask yourself, what the hell. this girls was shaking and humping the ground and all sorts of things.
    when i saw it i thought automatically NO WONDER THIS GIRL WON, cus my god if i didnt already know she was 15 cus it came out AFTER that she was 15, i would have said the girl had years of experience in doin the damn thang.

    thats all i gotta say, but remember the tape was made without knowing what would have happened the day after the concert, and lemme repeat, the camera man just kept on coming back to her

  • Sunkissed Trini

    I can’t believe some of the comments I am reading. I don’t think that judgment should be passed until all the information is clear. I am a Trini girl and I must say that yes, we do dance and wine but not like what Akon did to Dana. Firstly, Dana was foolish enough to lie to her father, telling him that she was going out with her friends for ice-cream (the father being more stupid to believe her). She should have known that her picture would have been in the newspapers and all over the internet. She should have known that she was not supposed to be in a club with grown-ups. However Akon’s behavior cannot be pardoned. He literally treated her like a mop. Being ignorant of her age is definitely not an acceptable excuse to treat a human being like that. I do not appreciate comments such as ‘it is her fault’ or ‘those trini girls real wild’. She was a victim; Akon was also a victim. About the speculation surrounding her age, she was 14 at the time of the incident but recently turned 15. In the Caribbean you can’t quite tell a person’s age just by appearance. In all both Akon and Dana are to blame for the incident, for they should have known better.

  • […] more: unknown Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and […]

  • Alan

    Akon is not to blame.

    The club was exclusively for people over the age of 18. Akon was under the assumption that this stage dancer was over the age of 18 as the club rules explictly stated. It is dangerous for a minor to sneak out of the house, wear sexually provocative clothes, insinuated herself into an adult club, and dance on stage with a notorious rapper. If any party needs to be blamed, it is the girl and her family. Sure, the girl was a minor, but Akon was in an 18 year old and older club. He was under the assumption that the girl was over 18. I agree that Akon did handle the girl roughly; however, his act was never intented to be performed on a minor because it was quite rough. This is why there is an age limit in clubs. If a minister’s daughter decides to violate all these rules, it is her and her father’s fault.

    Here is another way to look at this incident. Say a peanut-allergic boy eats a candy bar such as a chocolate bar that is known to have no peanuts in it. Say there actually was a peanut in the bar and the boy suffers an allergic reaction. Who is to blame? Not the boy: he was under the assumption that there was no peanuts in the bar. Akon’s situation is similar.

  • Maggie

    Danah is to be blamed for her actions. She immensely shamed her family and friends. Ironically her father is a Preacher. The girl appears to be shallow. I think she has’nt learned her lesson.

  • i am an adult and the way this young lady behavved i was very appalled. just to know that her family wants to blame everyone else for her behaaviour is wrong. i live in trinidad and at that age a normal child who has a concienc would not have placed herself in the spotlight like that. in my opinion, she doesn’t care about her family nor herself and now she’s trying her best for everyone to feel sorry for her. get a life DANAH

  • Houston

    first of all, that girl should not have even been there, so i blame her parents. If her father was so concerned and everything, why did he not find out where she was going? or did he allow her to go to a night club being underage? she is playing this victim role because of how things turned out but we all know that is BS. i believe the trini saying is, “take front before front take you.” how can u blame akon people? some of you act like you have never danced with another person….maybe not to that extreme, but think about it,the way ppl dance now, it is only a matter of time before that is what will be called dancing. Akon is a performer so he will perform. now he saw a young goodlooking girl wearing a very sexual outfit and he brought her on the stage to enhance the performance, now is that any way for a 15 year old girl to be dressed? that is really not the main focus, but still come on. so Akon pulled her on stage, did his “dance” and then he gets in trouble. He is to blame, because even tho it was dancing/wining up/whatever ud like to call it, it was inapropriate. THE REAL CRIMINAL IN THIS WHOLE THING IS MS. DANAH, AND HER PARENTS.

  • The truth

    I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with trini chicks. They are very manipulative women.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site