The African continent has, for the longest time been a place of mystery for western travelers. To some, it?s a vast safari with wonderful scenery and lots of exotic animals. To others, it?s a dry place of famine where pot-bellied children roam, scavenging for dinner. To all, it?s the poorest continent on earth, and to many it?s a pitiable condition which needs as much assistance as possible, financially and even physically.
Well intentioned westerners have made it their mission to help Africa. Some more literally than others. Very quickly it became something of a fashion statement to snap photographs with starving African infants, if they are orphaned, their pictures are even more credible. Rich westerners have flown into the continent as messiahs to save and literally pick up Africans to take home. We have the stories of Bono, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Oprah and Madonna. They have all taken it upon themselves to help better Africa in the individually unique ways they know how. This is an ongoing topic that has left room for a lot of debate.
So what can be said about the foreign cash cow donors who are introducing a peculiar new breed of philanthropy? We need to encourage it. Yes indeed. Many have grown weary of western superheroes coming to save Africans from themselves, but the case needs to be examined in a more positive light. What might appear to be first world condescension might actually translate to a few new schools being built in remote areas which had no prior access. It might mean power supply and clean water to previously less fortunate people. It might even mean a better life for a child who was certainly bound for a much more uncertain fate. In our assessment, it is necessary to see the good intentions of these benefactors. At the same time, something about this model does not seem to work too well over the long term.
Perhaps it is important for well-intentioned western entertainers to be more realistic with the impressions they give off about Africa. While there is indeed a lot of poverty on the continent, and in some cases, abject poverty, many Africans still remain displeased when a few rich foreigners decide to babysit their continent and dictate the on goings. It is essential to give charitably, but not in a manner similar to which one would feed a flock of helpless geese. It is important to do good works, but it is even more important to do good works without offending your hosts.
Those who bring immeasurable gifts such as education to the African continent have given gifts that will forever change lives, and they are much appreciated. Long after they leave, their effects will still be felt (it is assumed). Those who feed the genuinely hungry, and clothe the poor will always be heroes, even if it is never televised.
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