Samuel Fosso’s self-portrait as The Chief: He Who Sold Africa to the Colonists is one of the artist’s most iconic works. Shot in 1997, Fosso created this photograph just a few years after his rise to international fame, at a time when the larger discursive category of “contemporary African art” was taking shape in the global art world. This article explores how, in this context, The Chief’s satirical content became entangled with the idea of “selling Africa” that is expressed in its title. In this image, Fosso thoroughly satirizes the notion of “selling Africa” through his shrewd manipulation of multiple figural stereotypes. However, key moments in the afterlife of this image suggest that this work was mobilized to perform exactly that function of “selling Africa,” which it so insistently parodies.

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