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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Buy Life?!

I was really perturbed when I read on Perez Hiliton around World AIDS Day that celebrities like Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys were digitally dieing and wouldn't resurrect themselves untill they reached their goal of raising $1 million for the Buy Life campaign.  There are SOOOOOOOOOO many things wrong with all of this both in terms of semantics and sensitivity.

1. You should not be encouraging people to buy life.  Save a life yes, buying life no! Life should not have to be bought it is a human right to live so really it should have been worded better.

2. Alicia Keys was spearheading this campaign through her Keep A Child Alive foundation and defended this campain by saying "Its so important to shock [people] to the point of waking up. It's not that people don't care or it's not that people don't want to do something, it's that they've never thought of it quite like that."

All I have to say is HMMMMMMMM. Telling people to make the ultimate sacrifice by killing their digital selves to help buy the lives of others just seems all sorts of wrong. And celebrities leading the way makes it cool which is exacerbating.  I know they were thinking about the clout they have, especially on social media, and they meant well but really?! It makes the people donating seems superior to those who are in need of help and it creates and "us" and "them" dichtomy that Koffi Annan was warning against. If people want to give you don't and shouldn't have to shock them into doing it, you just have to provide a platform to do it.  I guess it worked and people have donated beyond the amount requested but was it to help those living with HIV, was it just so they could get back to keeping up with the latest news on the celebs they follow on Facebook and Twitter or worse to be cool and part of this daring and sensational campaign!  Does it matter how the money was raised? Money is money right? I don't know about that...

Death where I am from is not taken lightly and I think from what I have heard from other Africans it is the same all over the continent.  So the whole "I'm going to be dead till you resurrect me" thing is just disturbing and so self important and disrespectful to me.  The people who they are saying are dying because we aren't helping don't get the luxury of coming back when things are the way they want them to be like those committing digital death voluntarily. The analogy is just WRONG! And to make it worse most of the money is going to Africa seeing as we have the majority of HIV/AIDS cases and Alicia Keys does most of her outreach on the continent.  The people recieving it will probably have no idea how the money was raised and I think that is a good thing because we Africans have pride even though we are made to seem like we just take what we are given without thought or care.  Reminds me of when the Zambian President refused to accept the GM grain sent as Aid. We have principles.

I think this is also why Africans in the diaspora are largely cut out participating and being a part of such campaigns.  They are not designed to help us help ourselves.  They are designed to guilt Westeners into giving and for them to feel good about their benevolence.  In the end it feels to me like its not really about the people in need.  Which is a shame because mobilising Africans in the diaspora is probably the key to getting proper control over helping those less fortunate and curtaling poverty and pandemics.  We are brought up to strive to be able to take care of our families and if you have the means you help there is no discussion about it, especially when you are abroad because the little that you can send is a lot back home. But we do it in silos because we do it for our families not for the community at large for the most part so those who do not have family of means are the ones who suffer. Africans overseas remitted $30 BILLION back home in 2009.  Some of that could be used to help programs that are seeking to empower and improve the lives of those who are less fortunate on the continent. However if they are like me then they probably get mad when they see a campaign call for money on TV or in their inbox or while they are surfing the net. I do not feel guilty, I feel offended and/ or angry most of the time. I don't think we should wait for Western campaigns to think of us, we need to start our own. We need to go back to the village not only RAISING but also SAVING the child mentality.

Am I just being too sensitive about this?


  1. Digital campaigning can be so tasteless and I agree that that kind of hyped up fundraising doesn't sit well.
    Primarily because it's upsetting that we have come to that as human beings, where we have to be shocked into helping others? Why could they not have To promote those kind of values seems almost daunting to me.
    Thought-provoking post, enjoyed reading

  2. Your support is always appreciated, thanks mate :)