Wanted: White liberals to save Afrika…NOT!
I am SICK AND TIRED of the NGO sector in Afrika. Why? Because it’s a sector that’s supposedly around for the sake of all the forsaken and forgotten people in the continent and has been designed to ‘help them develop’ (whatever THAT means). The truth is that its dominated by people in Geneva, Washington or some other northern capital, who have no idea of what the needs are on the ground and are frankly more interested in being seen to be making a change rather than actually making a change.
Even worse is this new breed of neo-liberal white kids who come traipsing into our country to ‘help the poor starving Black people’ and maybe even ‘find themselves’ while they’re at it. The nauseating testimonies I hear from these white kids on how ‘coming Africa changed my life’ are too many to recall…with their stupid comments like ‘now I’m so thankful to have running water at home’…or even better, ‘African people just seem so happy all the time.’ And then these students in ‘international development’ come from universities to do some research work for their thesis and feel like they have a right to ask all the communities they meet any question they want because they think doing something significant. Let me tell you this…WE’RE TIRED OF YOU!
A report by Action Aid (click here to download the full report titled: Real Aid- An agenda for making aid work) showed that when countries in the global north give out what THEY call Aid, a lot of that money ends up back in their economies. The entire sector is structured to be inefficient and powerless, relying on funds from some of the very same institutions whose injustices we purport to be fighting…Does anyone bother to find out how the ‘big names’ in philanthropy and international aid invest their money? Is ethical investing a part of their vocab? As Graham Hancock so eloquently pointed out in his book Lords of Poverty, poverty is an industry that is far to lucrative for some to be done away with by them. That’s why its so nauseating see all these professionals and students from the global north arrive here by the bus load to ‘solve Africa’s problems’ when most of the bleeding trouble is generated by themselves, the hyper-consumerism of their nations, their insane financial and foreign policies and multinational corporate behaviour. They should bleeding well stay where they are and ‘help save the world’ from their own nations.
As Hancock explains:
At every level in the structure of almost all our most important aid-giving organisations, we have installed a tribe of highly paid men and women who are irredeemably out of touch with the day-to-day realities of the … underdevelopment which they are supposed to be working to alleviate. The over-compensated aid bureaucrats demand — and get — a standard of living often far better than that which they could aspire to if they were working, for example, in industry or commerce in the home countries. At the same time, however, their achievements and performance are in no way subjected to the same exacting and competitive processes of evaluation that are considered normal in business. Precisely because their professional field is ‘humanitarianism’ rather than, say, ‘sales’, or ‘production’ or ‘engineering’, they are rarely required to demonstrate and validate their worth in quantitative, measurable ways. Surrounding themselves with the mystifying jargon of their trade, these lords of poverty are the druids of the modern era wielding enormous power that is accountable to no one.” [pp.32-33]
It’s just so aggravating because its obvious that most of these white NGO professionals don’t give a shit and don’t even know the deal. They’re just delighted that they live in a mansion with 3 house servants and 2 nannies who take care of their children and make sure the house and compound are spotless. They could NEVER afford to live like that in the US, Britain, Sweden or wherever they come from. And these tend to be the same people to endlessly whine about ‘African corruption and incompetence’ and how ‘nothing works in Africa’ and how you ‘can’t find decent schools and hospitals here’…well if its so bloody awful why don’t you FUCK OFF!
Believe me I tried to have enlightened conversations with these white liberals (you know the ones who are beaten with clubs as they ‘peacefully protest’ outside WTO and G8 meetings) and frankly, they can’t even begin to see how even they way they think, how they spend their money, how they have been trained to perceive Afrika as a ‘desperately hopeless continent’ is all part of the way Africans are dehumanised. They don’t get that even though they as an individuals may ‘like African people’ on a conscious level, they are living with institutional privilege that degrades Black people, especially Africans….and as long as they do not fight this institutional privilege they’re part of the problem. These neo-liberals ‘committed to global equality’ need to devise ways to deliberately dismantle THEIR chains of PSYCHOLOGICAL SLAVERY that tells them its NORMAL for white people to be treated better on an individual and group level…and that they should generally expect to be treated better globally. Of course this isn’t a conscious thought that most of them have, but I can assure you that the sense of white entitlement is very much alive and kicking.
There was a time I and several other people are standing the line to check in for a flight airplane, and this group of white men just tried to push to front of everyone and be checked in first because they were ‘in a rush’. What?! And what were we doing there….standing there for decorative purposes?! But it didn’t occur to these white men that you know what, we Africans may also be in a rush but we’re WAITING IN LINE for our turn. But oh no…we Africans may be in a rush but white privilege dictates that its ok to barge in front of people, especially Africans who ‘can’t even run their countries’, right? Riiiiiiggght.
So unless these white liberals (bleeding heart varieties) make a point to re-train themselves on how they perceive Africans, they’re part of the damn problem. These white liberals who have actually convinced themselves that ‘they care’ don’t see that they have been trained to dehumanise Africa or -at best- view Africa as a little kid that desperately needs their help. It may not be their fault that they have been raised with this mentality but for FUCK’S sake, have the decency to study the culture you’re about to enter and make a bleeding effort to understand that YOU DON’T HAVE THE ANSWERS. So don’t come here with your damn righteous and pious talk to ‘save the starving negroes’ which, in its effort to ‘culturally sensitive’, just insults everyone. You can’t be culturally sensitive unless you’ve made an effort to understand the culture you’re entering. And to be honest many of these white NGO workers and students come to Africa and feel like the community ‘should cooperate’ and be willing to spend hours talking about themselves so that this white person can write a ‘groundbreaking’ study about’ the X village in Y country in Africa’ and thus skyrocket his/her career to career bliss…and leave the communities, that gave him/her the material for their work, in desolation. He/she can’t even be bothered to do some fundraising or find creative ways to incorporate community members into his/her work so that THEY gain visibility and are exposed to opportunities that otherwise do not exist for them. But NO…that’s far too involving and tiring for the white NGO worker, committedly trudging through the mud to continue their ‘all important work’….Fuuuuucccck offfff!
I personally do not see what all these multinational NGOs (that’s what they are) and endless lines of development students and professionals are doing in Africa. My advise to them is to LEAVE US ALONE. Go back to your country and grapple with trying to end unfair trade agreements, hyper-consumerism and figure out how to stop THAT. But oh, that doesn’t seem quite as exciting and oddly ‘glamorous’ as working with ‘slum communities in Africa’ does it? I doesn’t make you look like you’re really a white person who ‘knows the deal’, does it? And that’s exactly the problem. All these people who don’t know or understand our country are coming here by the THOUSANDS to solve a problem that’s existed for decades. If it were that easy to solve, Africans would have solved it by now. Why don’t they stop the problem at one of the sources, namely, the hunger for resources and wealth by the global north? And don’t say ‘its not us, its our government that’s bad’…I mean what the fuuuck does that mean when it’s the PEOPLE who leave lights on in buildings, buy a new wardrobe full of clothes every year, eat too much, leave water running…is THAT all the government’s fault as well?
But no, its not ‘cutting edge’ to protest outside the WTO anymore…now its trendy to go to and ‘ mingle with the natives’ and really get your ‘hands dirty’. Only then can you, as a white liberal in your NIKE sneakers, ADIDAS backpack and clothes from THE GAP, stand on the podium and be given the medal of ‘authentic development worker’.
Fuck false validation.