Kagure Mugo
Kagure Mugo

Save Africa from your ‘humanity’

The world is a mess. From the Accra floods to Ebola. From the missing planes to #Ferguson. From terrorism to reverse terrorism (aka counter-terrorism). To the fact that none of us can trust Fifa anymore.

Despite the fact that the world has its own problems the focus is always here. Granted we have more than our fair share but it would seem like everyone with a bleeding heart or a God complex wants to rush to our borders to help out.

“Heroes from the West” have flooded our shores thinking they’re doing some sort of noble work, from slavery to saving us from ourselves in terms of needing to “tame the dark continent”. We have the next generation of do-gooders, pretty young things that have come to save the continent during their gap year and subsequently never want to leave.

They are the generation of “Save Darfur”, #Kony2012 and Band Aid crooners who insist on closing their eyes to the ills within their own borders, seeking instead to “save the dark continent from itself”.

I recently met up with a Canadian friend. He spoke of the hot mess that is the land of the maple leaf and how it faces issues that are rarely spoken of. He said that after his two-year stint earning money back home he would come back to Africa. This is because it is here he can do the most good. Initially I thought “that’s nice” but later on questioned why? What makes us so much more “in need of your help” than your own country?



This mirrors a conversation I had with an American woman who lamented racial segregation in Cape Town. After listening to her wax lyrical for a while I looked her dead in the eyes and said “#Ferguson #BlackLivesMatter #ICantBreathe and #McKinney“. After an awkward silence I asked her why she insisted, along with her other American compatriots, on coming here wanting to help.

Do not remove the twig in your neighbour’s eye if there is a branch in your own.

And my experience with the NGO world is that people often rush abroad to go and find the experts, those who are the real thought leaders on *insert group of rights here*.

The World Economic Forum is here and Zuma is working overtime wearing a South African scarf to convince Africa‚Äôs big investors that this is the place to be. Very little in the rhetoric being spread speaks of how Africa is helping herself — it is only through her continued integration in the global community that she has managed to become an “upstanding member”.

Neither is there much acknowledgment of the culture of hand-outs in expertise, funds, support. A great example is the Ebola epidemic. Very little is said about how some of those leading the charge were African doctors, West African ones to be exact. How many of the breakthroughs came from them and not an obscure lab in France or Switzerland. We speak of philanthropic acts from billionaires abroad and forget that there are local people who have set up schemes in their own communities in a way that inspires because there is a face to the good being done.

The beginning of my academic year was packed full of Americans in running shoes and shorts wanting to go to the “poor areas” to help. And fresh-faced graduates open up NGOs in small Ugandan villages to tell women three times their age how to “manifest their rights”. This as they leave the problems they have behind. As they leave rising unemployment, economic instability, institutional sexism and racism within their own countries to come and tell us we need to be better.

We should try, for a little while, to genuinely figure it out for ourselves.

Image – Irish musician and Aid campaigner Bob Geldof addresses a press conference with German musicians on the launch of the 30th anniversary version of the Band Aid charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in Berlin on November 13, 2014, to raise money for the fight against the Ebola virus in west Africa. (AFP)

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