How Low can you Go?
Last week I wrote briefly about the game that is getting Aid money, and how data is used to determine which country needs the money more: that is, the sadder your numbers look, the more money you can get. However, it is important to note that countries/ministries of health are not the only institutions taking advantage of this system. Non-Profit organizations also utilize numbers to their benefit.
If you have ever watched an advertisement or commercial asking for help or donations for a cause in Africa, you see the exact same stereotypic images of a poor village and poor family, living in shabby conditions.
To get donations that are substantial, the public image of a certain area, or cause has to be changed and depicted to be as dire as possible. The more dire the situation, the more urgent the need and the more money is donated. And while this situation is helpful and truthful in times of crisis, war and natural disasters, many non-profits in their search for donations paint a picture of a negative Africa existing in only villages and poor towns.
The Washington Times published an article (Op-Ed) by Ted Nugent, and he had this to say about Africa:
Africa isn’t called the Dark Continent for no reason. Africa has forever been a political nightmare full of overt corruption, tribal warfare, genocide, murderous regimes and brutal dictators.
There is no country in Africa that truly respects freedom or the rule of law. The majority of countries in Africa are in economic ruin because of political corruption and a history ugly with cruel despotism. That’s why starvation and disease are rampant. AIDS is projected to kill as much as half the populations of some countries. Genocide is a way of life. There is little light in Africa.
While this article is not meant to request money or Aid (but actually to dissuade American involvement in the war in Libya), its stance is a perfect model of the public opinion that is held by many Westerners and Americans about Africa.
The views written in this Op-Ed, are completely false. Genocide is not a way of life in Africa, and a majority of African countries are not in economic ruin. There are various other comments that could be made about Ted Nugent (a musician, and not an ‘Africa Expert’ if such a thing exists). But the main point to gleam from this is that the views espoused in the first two paragraphs of this article are gleamed from public opinion created by money seeking groups.
Note that I do not refer to these non-profits as “profit-seeking gr0ups” (which they inherently are not supposed to be). It is completely true that to solve many of Africa’s numerous problems (which I completely agree that they exist!) these groups need money, I just believe that the representations of entire continents ought to be tinged with a bit of truth, and reality.
I have spent the last few months writing articles that talk about Global Health problems with a focus in Africa. And I realize that my articles portray a dire view of Africa. I do not believe in portraying my continent as a garden of Eden, because we do have problems, but neither is the situation or the continent one of “political nightmare full of overt corruption, tribal warfare, genocide, murderous regimes and brutal dictators.” Reading a history textbook would be a great reminder of just how far Africa’s history stretches. So I hope to use my articles to show a balanced view of Africa-to show the truth.
-Onome U. Chicago IL, International Health Team, College Sophomore.