Africans Don’t Need Saving, Let Them Tell Their Stories

Design Week Lagos (DWL) | ArchDaily

British charity Comic Relief says it will stop sending celebrities to Africa after criticism that celebrities were going to Africa as “white saviours”.

According to a recent BBC report, the charity also said it will also stop using images of starving people or critically ill children to portray the continent.

The report quoted Sir Lenny Henry, who co-founded Comic Relief saying: “I think it’s about time.’’

He said it did not mean that the films that have been made in the past weren’t extraordinary and didn’t have a huge effect.

“But it’s time for young black and brown film-makers to take charge and say, ‘I want to tell you my story’,“ Henry said.

Meanwhile, a 2019 report by the British newspaper the Guardian touched on the “White Saviours” sentiment when Labour MP David Lammy touched a raw nerve in his response to the image of Stacey Dooley from Strictly Come Dancing fame, photographed with a toddler on her hip in open dusty roads of Uganda.


According to the article, Lammy tweeted that “the world doesn’t need any more white saviours”, or western do-gooders flying in, believing they are solving the developing world’s problems while blissfully ignorant of the colonial baggage they carry”.

For centuries, Africa has been depicted as a lost, forgotten land where people are starving and live among animals in dire conditions.

The international community have for decades portrayed African people in photographs or movies as skeletal and in need of “saving”.

“Yes, a large majority of the population lives in poverty and malnutrition is rife across the continent, but there is an Africa that they don’t show you in mainstream media, an Africa that is coming into its own, despite its hardships, an Africa that has showed the world how to handle a pandemic, which has seen so many Western countries failing to do, with many still having the audacity to question, how did they manage to get it right with their ailing health systems?”

Meanwhile, according to the BBC report, as a means to finalising new storytelling guidelines, the charity also said it will work with media organisations across Africa to raise “awareness of wider narratives across the continent” and promised to make “every aspect” of its production “more diverse and inclusive”, writes BBC.


Written by PH

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