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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora