A Belgian city has cancelled plans for a black female Santa Claus to hand out presents to children after critics labelled the event as ‘woker than woke’.
Queen Nikkolah was going to be draped in the traditional red, white and green costume and hand out gifts to children at the town hall.
The festive character was created by artist Laura Nsengiyumva as an African alternative to Santa Claus.
However, the Ghent mayor, Mathias de Clerq, gave into critics who slammed the female Santa Claus for being “woker than woke”. The mayor said: “There is nothing wrong with Sinterklaas as we know him. “We shouldn’t try to turn him into something else.”
“People see Queen Nikkolah as a threat,” said Nsengiyumva, who created the character in 2017.
“But if I didn’t like this tradition, I wouldn’t have picked it up. It’s also a desire to be part of it.”
“It came from a need from the community, not only people of colour, but I think also white allies who needed an alternative to deconstruct the colonial myth around Sinterklaas,” she said.
“I dream of a Belgium liberated from colonial ideology and a society without discrimination,” Queen Nikkolah said.
Members of the right-wing New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) declared the event “woker than woke”.
Nadia Sminate, a vice-chairman of the Flemish parliament, added: “Queen Nikkolah’s initiative is actually saying that entire generations of Flemish people are racists.”
Over 300 children had been signed up to attend the alternative Christmas event.
St Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6 in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Sinterklaas is often accompanied by Zwarte Piet, or “Black Pete”, a black-faced boy.
The character has been slammed for being a racist caricature and anti-racist campaigners in both nations have called for the tradition to be axed.
Speaking of Zwarte Piet, Nsengiyumva said: “At the root of it is that it is an Afro-descendent character who is at the service of Sinterklaas.”
“I think it’s part of many childhood traumas for black Belgians, for Afro-Belgians, because you’re called out as Zwarte Piet, you’re compared to him.”