It’s Africans’ turn to help Norwegians

Who ever said Norwegians don’t have a sense of humor? Just in time for the holidays, a Norwegian group calling itself Radi-Aid has launched an appeal to ship radiators from Africa to Norway. Their cause is the plight of freezing children during Norway’s harsh winter months. It’s complete with a new music video, and incorporates all the right tropes (see here, here and here) — some people might miss the satire.

These people aren’t playing around though. Their effort is a serious critique of misguided development, and of the Western media coverage which often accompanies it. What they want:

1. Fundraising should not be based on exploiting stereotypes.
2. We want better information about what is going on in the world, in schools, in TV and media.
3. Media: Show respect.
4. Aid must be based on real needs, not “good” intentions.

It looks like we’re not the only ones to be fed up with poor spokesmen and seriously misguided aid efforts (H/T Rishita Nandagiri). Hallelujah; we here at AIAC couldn’t be more thrilled. We hope to interview the good folks at Radi-Aid (and the The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund, the people behind it), so that we can come back to you with a feature on how they developed and funded their campaign. (Also, in preparation for spending this Christmas in Stavanger, I’m curious as to whether I might qualify for a radiator, or at least a new fleece & a bottle of Aquavit?)

Just in case you think this is an isolated incidence of Scandinavian brilliance, we were also referred today by Norwegian Magnus Bjørnsen to artist Morten Traaviks’ “pimp my aidworker” project, “a mock fundraiser for Western aidworkers.”

So stay tuned next week for more. In the meantime, we hope readers take the time to educate themselves on pressing issues in Norway. Because it is really cold there folks, but it’s also entirely lovely. And put the song on repeat.



Caitlin L Chandler

Caitlin is Inequality Editor at Africa is a Country and a writer who's most recent journalism appeared in The Nation

  1. I am enjoying this whole satirical perspective and most importantly yes to no 1. point why not use stereotypes for fundraising? Talking of misguided development is it really a question of misguided or utter disregard?

  2. No vaccine, no safe treatment, no cure, no questions after 30 years ! Isn’t something awry? In House of Numbers: Anatomy of an Epidemic, an AIDS film like no other, the HIV/AIDS story is being rewritten. This is the first film to present the uncensored POVs of virtually all the major players; in their own settings, in their own words. It rocks the foundation upon which all conventional
    wisdom regarding ‘HIV/AIDS’ is based.

    1. Nicky – see my reply to Cam below. SAIH are setting up a distribution w/c 3rd December. and when’s the Gavle Goat being set up?

  3. This is amazing! Tweeted this: I just wrote a post on “The iPhone and the Latest Technology: Why We Consume at the Expense of Others,” which gets at this critique of development that always conceptualizes Africans as ‘behind,’ when actually, the ways in which they use technology (for cultural transformation) is far more progressive than how we in the West use it.

  4. Reblogged this on MEDIAPATICA and commented:
    In Norway kids are freezing!

    Io in Norvegia ci ho vissuto. E la drammatica realtà cantata da questi generosi ragazzi africani è assolutamente vera: “molte persone non si rendono conto di quello che succede laggiù, in Norvegia fa freddissimo, si scivola sul ghiaccio, i bambini congelano durante l’inverno! Servono radiatori che portino un po’ di calore africano!”

    (un’analisi seria di questo spot qui sotto)

    1. Cam – if you email and ask nicely they are setting up a system on Monday to sell the tshirts, and they’ll add you to their mailing list. I emailed them this morning and they responded within the hour.

  5. Agree on the t-shirts and make them available here in the USA intime for the holidays. I love this – and I’m half-Norwegian, just two generations away from Norge.

  6. the norwegians have long been way ahead of the curve on looking critically at their government’s development programs, this is an extension of that. they wrote some excellent evaluations of development projects gone awry i remember reading years ago. good to see aiac discovering the scandinavian sophistication on development.

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