Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has been chided on social media after tripping over cultural sensitivities in her creation of the Harry Potter fantasy world.
On Pottermore, the official Harry Potter website, on the weekend Rowling announced the existence of wizarding schools across the globe, singling out Uagadou for special attention.
It was the largest of all wizarding schools, she wrote, had the best international reputation and welcomed students from all over the continent.
Like all schools, the precise location was a closely guarded secret due to fears of Muggle persecution but it was in Africa, she said.
"The only address ever given is 'Mountains of the Moon'; visitors speak of a stunning edifice carved out of the mountainside and shrouded in mist, so that it sometimes appears simply to float in mid-air. Much (some would say all) magic originated in Africa, and Uagadou graduates are especially well versed in Astronomy, Alchemy and Self-Transfiguration."
It prompted this curt response:
Africa is a Country is an ironic title for a movement which began as a blogsite to challenge the conception of Africa as an amorphous country, rather than a collection of diverse cultures and nations.
Advocates argue that referencing Africa without mentioning a specific country carries a certain post-colonial prejudice and often unfairly taints one nation with the troubles of another, diminishing the world's capacity for sympathy and categorising Africa as a "basket case" from which there is no ready solution.
After which Rowlings clarified:
@naunihalpublic Uagadou takes students from all over Africa, but it is in Uganda. #IAgreePottermoreShouldSayThatWillChangeDescription— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 30, 2016
There was some scepticism:
Consequently, The Washington Post bought into the debate, suggesting J.K. Rowling's first thought - that a wizarding school might be better described as African than Ugandan - had historic grounding.
There was an excellent case for stating that an African wizarding school that had lasted a thousand years should be African, rather than be associated with any particular state, because, compared to Britain, the concept of the nation state was relatively young.
The author's clarification was accepted with a bit of gushing: