Many of us who have grown up in a western society have been spoon-fed the narrative that “Africa is poor” and in need of international intervention to solve their problems. International aid workers and volunteers are often portrayed as active “givers”, whereas the beneficiaries in the local communities are stigmatised as passive receivers.
This binary view distorts the true picture of a community and promotes neo-colonial stereotypes and what has been called the “white saviour complex”.
It’s OK to be uncomfortable
We all need to be aware of this ongoing discussion, and if you are white, or grew up in Europe or North America: Try to stay cool. Most western people find it terrifying to be challenged on this issue. The most natural reaction is to defend yourself.
Our advice is: Breathe. Relax. And above all: Listen. You are not the only person in the world that will have to realise that you have been told a euro-centric narrative for the better part of your life. It’s not necessarily your fault. Luckily, you have the brains to understand it now, and know better. And you have the power to change your perspective.