The the West provides aid to Africa, instead of

The images cause
a state of depersonalization or alienation. It forces the black subject that
develops a relationship to itself through a white subject, and to look at
itself through the perspective of the other. In most documentaries, news
reports, and photographs, the continent is depicted as being penurious, disease
ridden, violent, and barren. Children are often shown without clothes to
illustrate the idea of tribalism, of being stuck in the past. Africans are
being shown without technology, living in huts in small communities, in
contrast the big cities of the modern world. According to Dr. Grada Kilomba, it’s
called Modern Primitivism: “the black subject is portrayed as the one who is
closer to nature, as the one who possesses something that the white subjects
have lost. This fantasy of the black subject allows the white subject to be
fascinated by the black subject.” One of the most displayed clichés is the malnourished
orphan. The misrepresentation of Africa painted by the media for the public is
perpetuating the image of a continent that is not progressing. This type of
generalization and stereotyping leads to the negative, biased perception of
Africa, and goes against the fundamental ethos of journalism objectivity,
neutrality and balance.


All of these
stereotypes are not based on complete falseness: they stem from facts. Although
the one-dimensional portrayal of Africa comes from
truth, the media fails to represent the entirety of the continent. While photos
of starving children are widely disturbing, they do not tell the whole veracity.

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Africa is the
richest continent in the world in terms of natural resources. There are
numerous gold and diamond mines – it is even common for Sierra Leoneans to find
precious stones in their backyards1.

20 precious minerals, such as platinum, iron ore, coal, lead, and coltan –
which is used in cell-phone and computers – can be found in many of the 54 African
countries, 45 of which have petroleum reserves, according to Harun Yahya in the
Gulf Times2.

The global North uses Africa’s resources to power their airplanes, cell-phones,
computers, and engines; and its gold to give value to western currencies. Then
why are 7 600 units of Sierra Leonean currency worth only 1 unit of the US
currency when the actual gold reserves are located in Africa?3
The West depends on Africa for its resources, yet the media shows that the West
provides aid to Africa, instead of Africa to the West.

If Africa is the richest country in the world, why is it the
poorest? To ensure that Africa continues to supply them with the resources they
need, the West systematically destabilises the wealthiest African nations and
their systems. Governments are backed by huge PR campaigns, leaving the entire
world under the impression that Africa is poor and dying, and “merely surviving
on the mercy of the west”4.

The most popular organisations such as Oxfam, UNICEF, Red Cross, Life Aid ultimately
manipulate the innocent who are under the impression that their donations are
helping “save the needy orphans”. “While one hand gives under the flashing
lights of cameras, the other takes, in the shadows.”5


Charity merely creates inferiority and dependency. According to Dr.

Grava Kilombi, stereotypes have a political function6
of holding identities in place: the white subject in the centre, as the
saviours, while the black subject are at the periphery, in need of saving. They post multimillion-dollar advertisement campaigns portraying
death and helplessness, to sustain that depiction of Africa. Organizations use
tactics like poverty porn – “any type of media, be it
written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order
to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing
charitable donations or support for a given cause”7
(Matt; 2009) – and the infantilization of the Third
World to incite passer-by’s and viewers to donate to charity. People respond
more, and give more, when a crisis in Africa is depicted, rather than when a
positive occurrence is shown. They stimulate guilt, pity, and a saviour-complex
in an ultimately counter-productive appeal for money.