By now, many have probably seen the creative music video and campaign called Radi-Aid – Africa for Norway. In the Africa for Norway aid video, Norway is portrayed as a frigidly cold place where citizens are dying of frostbite. Therefore, Africans must unite in order to send them aid, in the form of radiators, so they won’t freeze to death in all the snow.
I’m basically heading up a team that’s getting Africans together in this time of need for Norway. You know, helping them out. A lot of people aren’t aware of what’s going on there right now. It’s kind of just as bad as poverty if you ask me. Sunlight puts smiles on people’s faces. People don’t ignore starving people, so why should we ignore cold people? Frostbite kills too. Africa, we need to make a difference in Norway. We need to collect our radiators, ship them over there, and spread some warmth, spread some light and some smiles. Say yes to Radi-Aid (Narration from the Radi-Aid video).
The goal of this campaign is to make us reflect on the one-sidedness of the aid campaigns produced and viewed in the North, and calls for a nuanced portrayal.
The Africa for Norway website states:
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?
Now what comes to mind when you think of Africa? Hunger, poverty, crime, corruption, AIDS? This is what is portrayed in fundraising campaigns and media, and is what you see and hear. This portrayal might work in relief campaigns, calling for short-term action, but fails to engage action in the long-term, since they see that their donations don’t lead to an improvement.
Africa should not just be something that people either give to, or give up on (Africa for Norway website).
As has previously been a reoccurring theme in several of my blog posts, portraying Africa as hopeless and helpless is not only uninformative, incorrect and falls short of reflecting actual developments on the continent, but it is actually harmful. The portrayal often leads to apathy among viewers who then perceive the African continent as one that cannot “be saved”. Viewers thereby render interest wasted and aid to the continent useless, since nothing can be done to change the situation anyway.
There are many positive developments in African countries, and these should become known. There has to be a change in the simplistic explanations of problems in Africa and fundraising should not be based on exploiting stereotypes. People tire and interest weens if all we see is sad pictures of what is happening in the world, instead of real changes. We want to see nuances and to know more about positive developments in Africa and developing countries, not only about crises. We want to know about them, because they’re there.
For more on this topic, see my previous blog post on the paradoxical portrayal of the African continent, click here.