Two Annoying White Men

Another year, another “special” Africa issue. For today, it’s Canada’s Globe and Mail, guest edited by the OGs of Team Save Africa, Bono and Bob Geldof. In their first order of business, B&B answered the very tough question: who speaks for Africa? (The Globe and Mail had invited readers to send in questions.) Why, asked one reader, does it take two white men to discuss the positive things that are happening in Africa? Why, indeed?

Well I don’t know, because they don’t actually answer the question. Note that part of the impetus for this issue was to highlight “the Africa you don’t know.” B&B, of course, only go on about the Africa they want us to know, the poor one that cannot function without their intervention. And, yes, they get that they’re “annoying,” says Bob. And? Bono, for his part, takes it a bit further. He “doesn’t see color,” he says. He “forgets,” you see (must be nice). Perhaps what he doesn’t see is that there are others more qualified than he to do this job. Not many, of course, come endorsed by both Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Bono does, he reminds us.  That Bono—the one thing he never forgets is to namedrop.

Thankfully, B&B aren’t the only ones in charge today. The all-around awesome Ory Okolloh is serving as digital guest editor, which means she’s running’s world site today. For this, I’ll gladly put up with B&B.



  1. What's with the tude, Sonja? The guys are trying to do some good. Embrace it, build on it, ignore it… but why turn it into a racial stereotype and put it down?

  2. @eric: thanks for the comment. i don't know quite what you mean by "racial stereotype" but i assume you're referring to the title of the post. Bono and Bob are white. and they're annoying (Bob's words, not mine). neither of these, i think, is up for dispute. on your point about how they're "trying to do some good" – in my opinion, good intentions aren't enough, nor are they always necessarily good, especially when they are predicated on a particular image of Africa and Africans. my point is that Bono and Bob are the ones that deal in racial stereotypes, but we continue to give them a pass because they're just "trying to help."

  3. I'm not a follower of Bono & Bob's political actions (and only a modest fan of Bono's music), but I gotta say that I wouldn't reject their help just because they don't represent a perfect, authentic African source. The political world is really effed-up and if all it took to get peoples' attention and convince them to do the moral/ethical thing was to write a few more logical, eloquent papers, or hold a few more NGO symposiums (we can never have enough of them!), or show them the tragedies of the present course of actions – – why we'd have everything fixed in a couple of weeks! But guess what, people in the so-called western industrialized countries eat up this celebrity crap , so grit your teeth and try to USE B&B's celebrity to your best possible purposes. Use them to SUPPLEMENT the authentic voices from Africa. Obviously you don't want to sell-out your movement to them, because they may lose interest in a few years anyway, but just utilize their fame while you can – – be at least a LITTLE politically-pragmatic about it.

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