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International Development And The Fallacy Of White People As Saviours

Poverty Porn: Charitable projects are more valuable if they foster empowerment rather than dependency.

Hello Cyprian,

I’m Lilian, I’ve just read your story on One Acre Fund.

Thank you so much for sharing.

I couldn’t help but relate it to my experience with this so called “white expatriate” flocking to kenya to “save us from our miseries”. (By the way, as Kenyans we need to ask ourselves why our country is a haven for the white expatriates and not say Nigeria or S. African).

A friend from one of these countries told me it’s because they have no tolerance for rubbish.

Anyway I’m digressing.

I’ve worked with these Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and startups in the education sector; by the way education in Africa is now the hot cake and all sorts of initiatives and schools are being started in Kenya because the money now is on skills and training.

I experienced the discriminations in terms of payments and treatment.

I have a lot of experience in the education sector, yet my ideas were considered irrelevant and I had very young inexperinced whites being put as my managers earning over five times what we were earning, yet the donkey work was done by us (Africans).

My concern is, these people are not serious about solving the problems facing our country, there are out here to experiment their ideas, use our kids as guinea pigs and make money then move on to the next thing that catches their fancy and we are left sorting out the problems created.

It is this frustration that made me leave to start my company that could address the real issues affecting problems in education.

Shock on me, I discovered that as a local indigenous African that studied in a local university, getting funding from the investors who fund these projects is impossible.

The hierachy of being funded is a white male, followed by white female, If you are black but studied in an ivy league university, its also rated highly.

The politics are just absurd.

An American once confided in me and told me, if I seriously needed funding I should get a white founder in my team. But that’s a story for another day.

So yes there are Kenyans who are serious about addressing issues affecting this country, but the playing field is totally skewed in favour of foreigners.

These foreigners first work on people’s minds and make them believe that they are incapable, they throw around new technologies and with their good communication skills, but its all semantics.

We agree.

Africans ‘waache kukubali kupigwa stick’ .

Charitable projects are more valuable if they foster empowerment rather than dependency.

White and Western society’s desire to help has done more harm than good.

The term “white savorism,” refers to an idea in which a white person, or white culture, rescues people of color from their own situation. Throughout the white savior’s journey they themselves are centered: they are often portrayed as messianic and tend to learn something about themselves in the process of rescuing others.

White savorism (disease) rationalizes that everything white people say, or do is good for us (Africans). It is this same disease that tells us that our culture is bad, it demonises our tradicitional beliefs and medicines, it says, that a young African boy cannot grow better in Africa, and must be adopted by white parents. It even pays a few coins to our brothers to demonise those who resist.

This is white saviorism, or Western saviorism, and it is not pleasant. It is deadly to culture, communities and lives. Because it is framed as benevolent and “coming from a good place,” it is generally not critically challenged, and this must change if we want any kind of systemic change in society – Annie Windholz.

Recent cases of ‘white savorism’ in Kenya

White savorism and Kibra slums

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