News / Africa

Video Pokes Fun at African Aid

Snow scooters are seen parked in the town of Longyearbyen in Svalbard, March 26, 2012.
Snow scooters are seen parked in the town of Longyearbyen in Svalbard, March 26, 2012.
Anita Powell
A new spoof video pokes fun at charity ad campaigns about Africa and challenges Africans to send their radiators to freezing Norway. The video’s creator says embedded in the joke is a serious message: stop treating Africans like passive recipients of aid, and recognize that the continent is more than the sum of its problems.

Growing up in Norway, Erik Schreiner Evans’ childhood was marked by snow. In fact, he says, snow has fallen on his family for generations, in a tireless and vicious cycle. Each year, snow would descend, forcing his family to don sweaters, thermal underwear and boots.

They were powerless to stop it, as the lyrics of the Africa For Norway's jingle point out:

“In Norway kids are freezing/
It’s time for us to care/
There’s heat enough for Norway/
If Africans would share/
Yet Africans keep thinking we can’t contribute/
The warmth we’ve got we’d like to share/
But we can’t distribute … yeah/
Now the tables have turned/
Now it’s Africa for Norway/
And there’s no way we can close our eyes ….”


If this were all you knew about Evans, you might feel sorry for him. But Norwegians have some of the world’s highest average income levels. Evans owns more than one sweater. He says he has contracted frostbite, but Norway also has one of the world’s best health care systems.

 A small country, Norway is also among the top 10 international aid donors to Africa, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

But imagine, he says, if all you knew about his Scandinavian country was that it was freezing. He says that one-dimensional view is how aid campaigns tend to portray Africa.

That is the point of the spoof aid video, called Africa for Norway, created by the group he leads, the Norwegian Students and Academics International Assistance Fund. The Fund supports local groups in southern Africa and Latin America with higher education, research and other projects.

The jingle evokes the 1984 Band Aid smash hit, "Do They Know It's Christmas?", which raised funds for the Ethiopian famine. The video featured stars like Bono, Sting, Simon Le Bon, George Michael and Boy George at the height of their fame - interspersed with images of starving children.

Similarly, the Africa for Norway video shows caring African singers belting their hearts out - spliced with chilling pictures of snow and gusts of howling Norwegian wind. Evans says the similarity is deliberate.

"The reason that we did it this way is to sort of turn the stereotypical image upside down. Because way too often we see charitable fundraisers that, they show real problems, but they portray especially Africans as passive recipients of aid in need of the charity of countries in Europe like Norway. And, the subtle message is also that we, the Europeans, are the developed ones, the successful ones, and the ones able to share of our bounties, and are really the only sort of, real protagonists, in this story," says Evans.

Africa For Norway Video


But Africa has a growing group of protagonists.

Amon Maseko runs a charity called the Upbeat Youth Center in South Africa. His center gives job and skills training to young South Africans.

He says Africa has problems, but discounting Africans’ intelligence and capabilities is dangerous. He also says he is seeing a rise in young entrepreneurs like himself who are starting their own charitable initiatives.

"A new generation of youth who, you know, are growing up now, I think they are realizing to say, 'look, the only thing that we can do is start with helping ourselves.' And, I see a lot of initiatives, a lot of youth now who are changing their whole [view], you know, people who say, ‘Africa is all about receiving and stuff,' " he says.

Evans says please do not send your radiator to Norway. The nation’s approximately five million people have enough.

But, thanks to the Africa for Norway video, we can all be glad that there will not be snow in Africa this Christmastime. After all, it is the middle of the Summer here in sunny Johannesburg.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid