Another fantastic, funny video aimed at dispelling African stereotypes

Cody Switzer at the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports on this funny video done by an aid worker fed up with how Hollywood — and many philanthropies — promotes harmful stereotypes of Africa and African men especially.

“We shoot our machine guns from trucks … We hate smiling. Smiling is stupid.”

Writes Switzer:

Nyla Rodgers is one charity official who is fed up with the way nonprofits represent Africa. Too often she sees depictions of AIDS, warfare, famine, hopelessness, desperation, and dependence on a Western hero. That kind of concern came to the surface when she saw the “Kony 2012” campaign by the advocacy group Invisible Children.

“When I saw the Kony campaign, it made me so mad,” says Ms. Rodgers, founding director of Mama Hope, a San Francisco charity that works in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda to start farms and build schools, health centers, and other facilities that strengthen communities.

In a somewhat related vein, Laurie Lee, deputy director of external relations in Europe for the Gates Foundation writes on the philanthropy’s Impatient Optimists blog about how violence and political instability is actually on the decline in Africa:

A downward trend in violent conflict over the last decade on its own might be too early to cheer about. It has not been irreversible in every country. But combined with positive trends in the last decade on democracy, economic growth and improvements in health and education, we can feel more confident that the progress made in Africa at the start of the 21st Century will be sustained and will continue.


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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.

  • Tom Murphy

    Some thoughts to consider from Eliott Ross from Africa Is a Country on the video: 

    “Sure, the Western media continues shamelessly to traffic in vicious stereotypes of black African masculinity drawn from the deep histories of racist iconography that remain at their disposal in spite of (more likely under the cover of) the general subscription to a rigid politically correct consensus. Yes, it would be nice if they would give this a rest once every few centuries.But do we really need this kind of “positive image for Africa” stuff? At best it can be framed as a necessary corrective, but the whole PR “brand Africa” shtick is boring, patronising, and finally insubstantial in its attempt to transform the West’s time-honoured way of imagining the continent, ideas that are thoroughly tangled up with ingrained – and much beloved – supremacist notions of Euro-American culture and identity. This isn’t all going to go away because you pointed out that there’s a bloke in Nairobi called Brian who works in HR.”There are some valid points to consider here. Especially how the drive to re-brand Africa in positive light is still driven by foreigners telling the story. Surely the positive stories are needed (as evidenced by the recent Roving Bandit post that shows how Africa’s negative image impacts investments in the countries), but there are many more to be told that fill the middle between positive and misery.The whole article can be read here: