Recently I came across a Twitter page that has gotten me really thinking, and thinking hard. @nowhitesaviors is a group out of Kampala Uganda. And they are a group making real international noise. Fair play to them. However their message is that Africa does not need “white saviours” any more. They are not anti-white people, but appear to just be against those lovely white people who promote themselves saving the world and saving Africa. And this is a sentiment I can fully agree with.
“the greatest gift in giving, is not needing to hear thank you” is a saying I heard many years ago and is one I have lived by all my life. Yes I give, and yes I have been thanked for it, and yes I have pictures of me giving, and yes I enjoy looking at them, and yes I have posted a few on social media, but not all, and yes I felt good. However, and I have to be honest here, if these people are saying “no thank you”, and are saying I should stop, or at the very least, not post pictures of me doing it, then fine, I will stop. However, I have lived and worked in Africa for nearly ten years and the continent, for all of it’s positives, of which there are so many, still has a need, a real need, a huge need.
The President of Ghana once said in a speech, along side the French President, that his dream was for a “Ghana beyond aid” and that is such a wonderful dream and superb ambition. However for now, at least, it is just a dream. It is not that Ghana, or most other African countries has unique challenges, but these young developing countries still need help, love and support. And there are still a vast amount of people doing superb work in helping them. And to help, they need money, and to raise money they need publicity and awareness, and to raise awareness then need to share the story, by whatever means, to get the job done. Yes the images, the heart-touching images are the stereo-type, and yes they are negative and yes they portray a sad image of the country and the people, even the fun and cute pictures, however, without them, the white people won’t and can’t be compelled to help and support. Are they then a necessary evil, a required negative. After all, if the white saviours, as they are now called did stop, where would that leave the continent and it’s need.
An Africa, or Ghana, beyond aid would, could and should be possible. It is a land rich in minerals and valuable asset. And for decades, it is a land that we white people have not supported, or loved, but have absolutely loved to pillage. We have been doing it for centuries. And maybe the greatest “gift” we gave Africa was corruption, it certainly was the most influential. Honestly they did not invent it. Okay so maybe, just like Brazil did not invent football, but became the best in the world, Africa perhaps did the same with corruption. But this sickness is not, and never has been, only in Africa. The real issue, or challenge, or question is when will Africa finally get beyond aid and fend for itself.
One area is of course through business. Ghanaians are very open for business. It is a market that is open for opportunity and real investment. But equally, Ghana needs to learn how to build, develop and grow their own business. One thing that always surprised me was how quickly they would follow others rather than look to be different. If a business was seen to work, they would follow it, rather than just be inspired by it and then look to create something different. Ghana, like other developing countries has a real advantage which they rarely take advantage of. They can see the future. Thanks to the internet, they can see what is big in other countries and other markets around the world. This gives them the advantage of being able to see what works and how to build it, from other countries, and then they can learn how to tailor it to their own business market. However it has to asked, but what business does Ghana create ?
Finally, I have to add, and it really is relevant to this post and the comments within, there is also another side to this, well certainly to the point or question about pictures. Ghanaians love to snap pictures of themselves. They love and are extremely into the whole social media thing of taking pictures of themselves and posting them online. And one of the things they love taking pictures of, or pictures with, are Obroni. It was a real constant of my time there. For the record, I am an ugly old white guy, and there really is no reasonable reason to want to have a picture with me. I am neither famous or a celebrity, yet it is fair to say that it was a daily occurrence that I would be asked to be photographed, or moreso, in a picture with locals. In the end I felt like a celebrity, well at least until the moment I got over it and realised I was just an accessory. But with so many pictures of me out there, how can I control how and when these pictures are used, and in what context they are portrayed.