Telling Your Own Story: Compelling?

Myne wrote yesterday about what she got out of the movie, The Help: the importance of writing one's own story. It's a sentiment that I can fully identify with. Which brings me to today's post.

Have you heard of the conflict in Northern Uganda and Joseph Kony? What about Jason Russell, Laren Poole and Bobby Bailey? Did you watch the documentary? Did you donate? I know that people of African descent often tend to find non-Africans (read: white) working on behalf of a cause in Africa quite suspicious. Understandably so.  Here's my question (tacked on to the other questions): Do we feel more compelled to respond to a need when the person doing the asking looks like us or when they look like the people we're trying to help? I'm just going to let that simmer for a while.

This is Collines Angwech. A young woman. A college student. from Uganda. who lived through the conflict.Her point: Realize you have a voice and use it on behalf of those who do not.

Photo by Abrilon

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2 Responses to Telling Your Own Story: Compelling?

  1. Honestly, yes, I do feel more immediate approval when the face behind a cause is from the country or area in question. It’s like a stamp of authenticity almost…

    This is a topic I’ve grappled with since coming to college and really opening my eyes to the work that non-Africans are doing for the continent and even meeting some fellow students involved in development efforts. I think some Africans have qualms about foreigners who want to help for many reasons– some groups may be very donation/charity like rather than empowerment based espousing more of a “poor African” mentality than a sustainable “let’s help them, help themselves” model; I think others feel the sting of having others do what the Diaspora may not be doing for Africa.
    I’m still coming to terms with my thinking in this area. I know that non-Africans are doing big things for the continent. But to deconstruct the negative thinking, it helps to start by investigating the authenticity of an organization’s motives. See that the founders are coming from a genuine place. (This is also useful to spot those groups I mentioned above). And remembering that at the end of the day getting up and making change yourself is way more useful than criticizing the efforts of others.

    In any case, thanks for this post 🙂 It got me back on the IC website to see how much the organization has grown in recent years. IC is a proof that “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world”. But as I was scrolling down the “Our Team” page, I noticed that almost all the faces were white. My next thought was… well, maybe I can work with them one day.


  2. Akhila says:

    I completely agree with the above commenter; I prefer Africans advocating for and speaking up for Africans, Asians doing the same for their fellow citizens, and Americans too for their country. I want local voices to be heard– and stories to be told by people FROM a country, a city, a community. I think organizations like Invisible Children often miss the message primarily because they are SO made up of white people while attempting to speak on behalf of Africans. It seems to me there’s nothing wrong with foreigners working in intl aid and development but those calling the shots should be so-called “locals” (though I don’t like that phrase either, lol.)

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