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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid