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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs