Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A(nother) Nice Laugh at Aid Inc.

The Aid industry takes a ridiculous turn more as a rule than as an exception. This ridiculousness finds a zenith point- one that is quickly multiplied- the moment the Aid industry makes contact with Africa. The reason is simple: Africa, still remains, the great unknown. At least in the eyes of your average Westerner. What becomes clear is that while philanthropy in Western soil is a direct response to clearly discernible dispossession; an attempt to ameliorate the self-evident vagaries and social-economic divides that Capitalism inevitably produces, with Africa that philanthropy responds to a different reality. That of the imaginary.

The problem with Africa, in the eyes of the average Western philanthropist, is that which citizens of the West first imagine and then declare to be the problem. And for where there is a problem as solution must be provided. So the Aid industry comes in, bungling on its way and making the rules as it progresses, with solutions to Africa’s problems. But no one really asks the Africa: what is your problem?

In the end, for every imagined problem, an imagined solution. And because every Westerner who has a mind to can come to Africa and become the change, then for every Westerner in Africa a set of imaginary problems and one of imaginary solutions to match. Suddenly, in a crowded field of solutions, the need to be groundbreaking arises and since all the sane things have been done it seems as though the competition begins to be one for the most ridiculous solutions.

It is all so funny that I have always felt that, with the mounting critiques of the Aid industry, the only response left to some of us is satire. Why, I ask, should I bother with learned critiques while the Moyos and the Easterlys can do a far much better job of it? It really is the reason why I (N.M) set up the Black Campaign and borrowed the line this blog, Don’t Come to Africa, Send Money. (That I haven’t done a good job at keeping the satire coming is a different story all together).

That aside, it is always refreshing to see Bill Easterly come up with the sort of hilarious post he did this Tuesday where he wrote:

“An expert commission of African leaders today announced their plan for comprehensive reform of music band U2. Saying that U2’s rock had lost touch with its African roots, the commission called for urgent measures to halt U2’s slide towards impending crisis.”
That aside, I must admit that I love Bono the musician while Bono the activist makes me gag. Well, of course I mean Bono the activist for Africa because the Bono (and U2) of Sunday Bloody Sunday did once speak to the social conscience of my youthful years. And yes, I still do like to listen to U2. Oh, and didn’t Adam Clayton live in Kenya for a bit when he was little?

Apart from the final four paragraphs, this post is culled from the draft of an incomplete essay by Njoroge Matathia.

1 comment:

Femme Lounge said...

i dont think the problems are imginary, they really do exist and for as long as we dont take charge of our own development, the westerners will always see us as needy.