Monday, July 16, 2007

Africa and White Guilt

In the past few years, there has been an overwhelming surge in activism against the genocide in Darfur. While I am glad that someone has decided to address this situation, I, as someone with an understanding of the triumphs that have happened in Africa both in ancient and modern times, hand my head in shame and disappointment because these overactive white people (let's face it, most people trying to save Darfur are white. I'm just stating the obvious.) are missing the point.

While no one will turn down support, the image being projected to myself and everyone else, whether realized or not, is that Africa is a continent that can do nothing for itself, that is completely reliant on the work of oh-so-conscious Europeans and Americans, that Africans themselves have no form of agency which is completely untrue. The Europeans and Americans who are trying to save the continent are the ones that destroyed the continent by exploiting its people and its abundance of natural resources in the 19th Century along with keeping them dependent now in the post-colonial period. It is the West's fault that the countries in the continent are like they are and they are perceived like they are. Given this fact, Africa has been doing well for itself as it turns the corner and tries to build economies in all of its countries through organizations such as the African Union.

Another person, an African in fact, shares my discomfort with much of the humanitarianism that has come to Africa as of late as well. Uzodinma Iweala, in the Washington Post, discusses his feelings towards the issue. It is a quick, compelling read and will make you rethink your viewpoint towards how you deal with the humanitarian crisis that exists on the continent.