It’s Africans’ turn to help Norwegians

A campaign by a Norwegian student group wants fundraising causes not be based on exploiting stereotypes. Also that aid be based on real needs, not “good” intentions.

A still from "Africa for Norway," the spoof music video mocking campaigns like "We are the World" and "Do they know it's Christmas."

Whoever 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, but Radi-Aid isn’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: Fundraising should not be based on exploiting stereotypes; better information (in schools, on TV and in media) about what is going on in the world; that media show respect to Africans; and that 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 (ht 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 to tell you how they developed and funded their campaign. (Also, in preparation for spending this Christmas in Stavanger, Norway’s second city and the heart of its oil industry, I’m curious as to whether I might qualify for a radiator, or at least a new fleece and 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 aid workers.”

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.

Further Reading

Goodbye, Piassa

The demolition of an historic district in Addis Ababa shows a central contradiction of modernization: the desire to improve the country while devaluing its people and culture.

And do not hinder them

We hardly think of children as agents of change. At the height of 1980s apartheid repression in South Africa, a group of activists did and gave them the tool of print.

The new antisemitism?

Stripped of its veneer of nuance, Noah Feldman’s essay in ‘Time’ is another attempt to silence opponents of the Israeli state by smearing them as anti-Jewish racists.