There is a time for everything, and tonight was my time to go out on television and speak up for the poor.
There is a whole debate going on about the aid organizations’ handling of “emergencies”, and the thing is, we can never forget that we are dealing with real human beings here. They may be poor, and they may be illiterate (hence they have no access to our studios and no means of putting their foot down when other people belittle them), but that does not make it okay to claim that they are dying of hunger and distribute food, when in fact they are not at all dying of hunger, but suffering from difficult diseases and other things related to their harsh situation.
Having read up on what Norway is left wondering about, I can only say that this from my side is not an issue about whether or not to engage in the poor, because I really commend anyone who wants to do something for the poor. But in order to help someone, you need to know what that person needs and wants; and you can absolutely never go into a situation and start meddling with the marginal coping mechanisms that that society has, only to retreat when your object no longer wins the sympathies of the masses. And believe me, the Western World tires easily of things that lack action.
Please note that Africa is not an experiment field for Western lack of imagination in the field of aid or Western “wonder products”. It is not the property of white people who have fallen in love with the red soil, nor is it a playground for international politics. It is a continent that has been disrupted by colonialism and which stands with half a heritage that they cannot easily restore, and also suffers from a lot of environmental issues.
Death is large part of their lives, but death is never a beautiful thing, whether it be in Niger or in Sweden. We humans are not as different as we often like to think, and if there is one thing that I am happy about concerning this evening’s debate, then it is that the people of Tanout had their voice heard (or at least respected). People in Europe got a glimpse of the fact that there is a different reality to Africa, one that the media is not too fond of portraying.
I am not sad that joyful children do not sell as much as dying ones. I realized today what twenty years of holding on to your integrity really means in the chameleonic atmosphere of the who’s whos of the giant aid industries. We are not for sale, and nor are African children. If you want to go for the emotional blackmail, choose the cows but treat people with the same dignity as you would want for your own children; and do not make a story and create havoc just because you ran out of ideas. Africa is NOT a place for aid experiments or foreign product speculations.