Radi-Aid: Africa for Norway

Donate your radiator today!…wait what?

In this “campaign” to provide Norway with radiators, the African nonprofit “Africa for Norway” strikes back at fundraising stereotypes of Africa.

A group of South African students and an aid agency in Norway are challenging the stereotypical image of Africa as a continent overturned with war, AIDS, corruption, violence, poverty and starvation needing rescue from developed countries.

“Imagine if every person in Africa saw the “Africa for Norway” video and this was the only information they ever got about Norway. What would they think about Norway?”

This is the question these student pose to viewers of their “Aid” videos. This relates back to the use of Poverty Porn and the paralyzing imagery that has been applied to Africa over the years. When you only portray debiliating images of starving women and children, what are westerners supposed to think of Africa? These images only engage in short term pity and interest, not allowing actual change or progress to be made in stopping these important problems that are occurring in certain parts of Africa. But Africa is not a country defined solely by these images, it is also a place of great progress and achievement. This campaign has very similar goals to that of Mama Hope, striving to change the stereotypes of Africa and to empower Africans to take back their image.

NPR’s Suzanne Lennon comments on this satirical campaign. “You’ve heard of “Feed the World“? This is “Heat the World.” There won’t be snow in Africa, but there will be in Norway, so the good people of Sunny Africa want to donate radiators — thus the name Radi-Aid — to poor Norwegians suffering from the cold and dying of frostbite. The video is humorous, but there is a serious message. The point is that images of helpless Africans are just as inaccurate as the idea of helpless freezing Norwegians. A lot of Africans cannot relate to the patronizing videos and development initiatives.”

The desires of this campaign are very clear:

WHAT DO WE WANT?

  1. Fundraising should not be based on exploiting stereotypes.
    Most of us just get tired if all we see is sad pictures of what is happening in the world, instead of real changes.
  2. We want better information about what is going on in the world, in schools, in TV and media.
    We want to see more nuances. We want to know about positive developments in Africa and developing countries, not only about crises, poverty and AIDS. We need more attention on how western countries have a negative impact on developing countries.
  3. Media: Show respect.
    Media should become more ethical in their reporting. Would you print a photo of a starving white baby without permission? The same rules must apply when journalists are covering the rest of the world as it does when they are in their home country.
  4. Aid must be based on real needs, not “good” intentions.
    Aid is just one part of a bigger picture; we must have cooperation and investments, and change other structures that hold back development in poorer countries. Aid is not the only answer.

To learn more about Poverty Porn, click here.

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