I understand and applaud your intentions with this series, but I have to say it rubs me the wrong way. There are many, many poor areas in Africa, true. But things like this perpetuate the stereotype that all Africa has is poverty and misery. Kenya has many modern cities and a well-established middle class. Nairobi has shopping malls, grocery stores, a fashion and movie industry, and everything you would expect in an multicultural city of 3 million.
Not to mention that what we consider poor and in need of an upgrade from our American perspective is just fine and dandy with much of the world. Our lifestyles are impossibly luxurious here, we have more choices than we could ever need and they don’t make us happy. In a rural area there’s nothing automatically bad about a little hut for a grocery store that sells the basics. My parents are well enough off and living in a very small town in Canada and their local store is not much more than that.
Of course there is desperate poverty we need to address. But when we treat an entire country or continent with the kind of condescension we routinely show Africa, how can we possibly expect them to come into their own and fix the problems?
THanks for this perspective, Orual. I never thought this series being taken by some as you’ve taken it.
My only defense is that, I’ve not made any commentary about these images. I’ve not said the whole country looks like this – though you are correct that some may have that impression and for that I’m to blame and sorry.
I’ve also not said there is anything “wrong with”, to use your example, a small hut that sells produce. Not at all! My intention is not to point to Africa’s poverty but to our opulence. Perhaps there’s a way in the future posts for me to make that aim more clear.
Thanks again for the valuable perspective. Worth thinking through for sure.
Thanks for the gracious response! I appreciate the clarification on your intention too – a goal I’m all for! Maybe because it’s paired with your awesome work for Compassion it seems more like it’s focusing on the poverty side of things in order to get people to give and sponsor?
I just know so many people here in the US who really do think that the entirety of Africa is grinding poverty and misery, and that it’s all same (essentially one big poor country), and battling those misconceptions is very frustrating. Thanks for letting me give my perspective on it.
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