“Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, first released in 1984 as part of Band Aid, is definitely, as Jordan Ballor says, “worst Christmas song ever.” Last year it was recorded again (for the fourth time in thirty years!) by well-intentioned but misguided musicians who wanted to raise awareness and funds for Africa.
But why don’t Africans every raise awareness and aid for Westerners? Fortunately, one group of Africans has united to save Norwegians from dying of frostbite. By joining Radi-Aid, you too can donate your radiator and spread some warmth in the frozen wasteland of Norway.
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?
If we say Africa, what do you think about? Hunger, poverty, crime or AIDS? No wonder, because in fundraising campaigns and media that’s mainly what you hear about.
The pictures we usually see in fundraisers are of poor African children. Hunger and poverty is ugly, and it calls for action. But while these images can engage people in the short term, we are concerned that many people simply give up because it seems like nothing is getting better. Africa should not just be something that people either give to, or give up on.
The truth is that there are many positive developments in African countries, and we want these to become known. We need to change the simplistic explanations of problems in Africa. We need to educate ourselves on the complex issues and get more focus on how western countries have a negative impact on Africa’s development. If we want to address the problems the world is facing we need to do it based on knowledge and respect.
The group also makes an excellent Acton-style point:
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.
Africa for Norway is a worthy effort to bring attention to the well-intentioned but often misguided approaches to Western aid. For solutions on how to really help those in need—whether in Africa or Norway—visit PovertyCure.