Appearing on The Daily Show in the US, South African comedian Trevor Noah, spoke with the host, Jon Stewart about his anxiety around visiting the United States
VERY pleased to have stumbled across this documentary film being made:
“What’s behind the West’s fascination with “saving” Africa? FRAMED investigates the images and myths that cast a continent as a victim”
It’s about time that projects like these became mainstream!
In Good Magazine, an article by Dana Driskill says of the documentary:
An increasing number of Americans are volunteering abroad. The New York Timesreports that an estimated 1 million Americans go overseas to volunteer each year, and African countries are the most popular destinations for these trips. Boniface Mwangi, a Kenyan activist profiled in a New York Times Op-Doc video, wants to know: “why?”
The video documents a visit Mwangi made to Carrborro High School in North Carolina, posing this same question. One student tells Mwangi she wanted to volunteer abroad as an advocate for women’s rights in India, Africa, and the Middle East.
“So as a woman of color, why would you travel all the way to India to talk about women when you have race issues in your country that affect your people, people who look like you, and young black men? If you speak about it here, they’ll hear you more, because you’re local,” Mwangi says bluntly, before apologizing for putting her on the spot.
She stares at him for a moment and blinks, obviously taken aback. “Um…I don’t know,” she says and shrugs. “I guess people in India, the Middle East, and Africa suffer more than women here do.” She then quickly reconsiders, acknowledging that it might be better to gain experience in women’s advocacy in the United States before taking her ambitions abroad. Their brief discussion brought to mind a great bit by The Daily Show’s new correspondent Trevor Noah on the inaccurate perceptions Americans have of African nations versus the reality.
“There’s a clear sense of glorification and faux heroism. When I’m here locally in Durham doing very similar work, people aren’t as excited by it,” one Duke University student says, a participant of an international volunteer program that invited Mwangi to speak during his trip to the United States.
Among the uncomfortable revelations during Mwangi’s speech and roundtable discussion was that it’s likely foreign volunteers in African countries benefit more from the experience than the communities they are trying to help thanks to the resume- and university application-enhancing powers of such a unique, altruistic endevor.
Mwangi and his fellow activists stop short of asking Westerners to leave Africa and disengage from efforts to improve conditions. Instead, they want people to reassess why they want to volunteer specifically in Africa and how they want to make a difference. Mwangi believes that students should spend time volunteering and advocating for change in their own communities before going international.
“There’s nothing wrong with service, and helping others by going abroad. I think it’s a very noble idea. The question is why are you doing it? Why go abroad when you can stop at the local homeless shelter?” Mwangi says, pointing especially to the experiences of black Americans in their own country. “My concern is that while you guys are out trying to save the word, you’re neglecting what’s going on at home. “
Read it here.
What do you think? Should the West start concentrating it’s saviour mentality on itself?
Happy New Year everyone.
I hope you had enjoyed wonderful celebrations to see in what is going to be a VERY exciting year. This year I’m hoping to really ramp up my posting, do more research for meatier pieces, get others to contribute and work on our very exciting Simua campaign to challenge African stereotypes. I’d also really love to hear a lot more from you, so please do comment and get in touch! And if you’d like to write something, I’d love to hear from you!
My year got off to a particularly brilliant start when someone sent me a link to an amazing video of Robtel Neajai Pailey.
Someone needs to give that girl a medal! She’s basically espousing everything I’ve been trying to convey in this blog. I thought I’d share it with you. Let 2015 be the year when the West stops pitying and patronising Africa (and other so called ‘developing’ continents and countries), stops treating it as one homogeneous group and stops pretending that aid is going to ‘save’ a continent that is not treated equally in the international political and economic systems. Enough is enough! Let’s raise our voices loud and clear and start building a world that works for all.
Lots of love, joy and goodwill to you all.