What do we know about Africans from the media? They are poor, uneducated, sick, traditional, backward, underdeveloped, unsophisticated, chaotic, dirty, overpopulated, environmentally polluted, corrupt, unable, passive, lazy, immoral, dependent…
They lack money, education, health, sophisticated culture, modernity, development, order, organisation, cleanliness, an environmental awareness, transparency, justice, help, assistance, moral and aid…
Do you see who LACKS?
Do you see who HAS?
By focusing on and repeating shortages and deficits, the global North systematically depreciates the global South. It defines the deficits and ignores the bigger context. Even worse: ostensible deficits are said to be natural or inborn.
That justifies people from the global North acting like experts, helpers and even like little police officers, trying to replace those seeming shortcomings with western values.
Like that we ignore that things just work differently. We don’t have an overview. And we often blame “the others” for our own incompetence.
Binyavanga Wainaina, Kenyan writer, says it in the funniest way:
And Renzo Martens from the Netherlands made a controversial documentary/art performance about poverty, how it benefits the rich and how NGOs use it as an exploitable resource: