A guest post from commenter Malkia of Kenya:
Africa is not a single country. The reasons for some of the crisis in Africa, e.g. the food crisis in the Horn of Africa and the need for emergency aid, vary from country to country. In fact, India and China combined probably have more people in poverty than all of Africa, yet they are not the object of charity and aid the way Africa has become.
The aid industry, built on Africa’s poverty and misfortunes, is now a multi-billion dollar industry with many local, national and international organizations stationed in many countries all over Africa, many of whom live in much better conditions than the same Africans they are trying to “save”.
Aid is addictive. For as long as there are so many aid pushers like Bono and Sir Geldof fuelling the addiction, Africans will never be able to stand up on their feet.
The idea that a bunch of rich celebrities can “save” Africa is an intellectually bankrupt idea to advertise to Americans and Europeans. When Western newspapers have headlines such as “Can Bono Save Africa?” or “Will Brangelina Save Africa?” can we then conclude that African causes are not as important in and of themselves as much as it is about the celebrity do-gooders?
Uzodinma Iweala (author of “Beasts of No Nation”) argues that such headlines are reminiscent of reports at the height of European colonialism, when missionaries were sent to Africa to introduce us to education, Jesus Christ and “civilization.” Bono has even been quoted as saying:
I represent a lot of people [in Africa] who have no voice at all… They haven’t asked me to represent them. It’s cheeky but I hope they’re glad I do.
Presuming to speak on behalf of millions of Africans, without their endorsement or permission, isn’t cheeky its colonialist. And no Bono, many of us are not glad.
Please look at the language used in the Keep a Child Alive/I am African campaign. It has white celebrities with painted apparent “African tribal markings” with words like “I AM AFRICAN”, which I found to be extremely condescending and strikes a nerve with a lot of Africans who have seen this ad.
I am grateful for Bono & company’s interest in our issues, but I am vehemently against turning Africans into helpless infants and children who would not know what to do without the “benevolence” of the West – never mind the role the West has played and continues to play in the regrettable circumstances in which Africa finds itself.
Africa doesn’t want to be saved. Africa does not need aid or armies of bleeding heart liberals to feed, clothe and educate its people, if we have responsive and responsible leadership. Those are the responsibilities of a government. Africa through fair and just trade and economic partnerships (read: KILL World Bank and the IMF economic policies) is capable of extraordinary growth.