African stereotypical images/stories run deep in some places and if you are an African living in the West I’m sure you have a many stories to tell. Some of my most memorable include being asked whether buses in Zimbabwe run on time like inLondon and the man who asked me whether we have air conditioning in Africa because I dared to complain about the room being too cold to name but a few.
Well Oxfam plans to change all that.
And before I carry on I would to draw your attention to Tolu’s eloquent response to Oxfam
It is not my intention to regurgitate any of this here but merely to reflect and ask a few questions
I have no doubt Oxfam is very good at what they do and some of the campaigns that they have brought to the worlds attention have been superb. My favourite were about food and land grabs in Uganda, whilst I was left questioning their judgement with respect to their campaign on sending second hand bras to Senegal.
I am not quite sure I entirely understand the stated aims of the current initiative but a few questions spring to mind:
Can we realistically reconcile beautiful landscapes and hunger?
How is this different from “they are so poor but they are always smiling/ happy to see you/ some of the most friendly people I have met even though they have nothing” stereotypical image of rural Africa?
Is South Sudan somewhere I should go on holiday or should I make a donation to. A food project for the starving people of South Sudan who cannot till their beautiful land?
Is this the best way to change Africa’s image in Western eyes?
Talking about image, what is the first thing that comes to mind when someone says OXFAM to you?
If your answer was poverty in Africa, would you say Oxfam is best placed to change the stereotypical image of Africa?
I am sure you get the picture by now. But where does this leave us?
To be honest I don’t know, but I would like to make a suggestion or two if I may:
If Oxfam honestly believes that the best way to rebrand Africa is through its landscapes, they should explore opportunities in sustainable tourism as well as the impact of such initiatives in fighting poverty.
The thing about tourism, is that it is one of the few industries if managed properly where money can go directly to local people. This involves engaging the local community as suppliers of goods and services to hotel proprietors, Theme parks and national parks etc
Yes I know, Oxfam is not a travel company but I could equally argue that no one would mistake Oxfam for a rebranding/Image Consultant company which is what it appears they are trying to do with this campaign.
YOUR THOUGHTS PLEASE?