Announced today, December 10
SAIH – The Norwegian Students and Academics International Assistance Fund
announced the winners of two international awards: the Rusty Radiator Award for the most damaging fundraising video and the Golden Radiator Award for the most creative fundraising video. Much media attention and more than two million clicks on the satirical video “Radi-Aid: Africa for Norway” released a year ago have encouraged SAIH to take new actions. The awards were accompanied by a new video clip “Let’s save Africa! – gone wrong”, in which the young black Michael shows us common patterns in fundraising. He makes Western expectations his profession: “Every time these filmmakers come to us in Africa, I’m the first person they call. I’m incredibly talented. Wait – this is sad Africa.”
The short film successfully problematizes in a satirical way how charity commercials are shot. From reports of filmmakers who have been involved in such shoots, we know how people are literally trained to look sad, women have to take off their jewelry for the shoot, or children have to exchange their school uniforms for dirty rags – sometimes despite the objections and incomprehension of those photographed. It does not make the situation any better that many aid organizations have long since switched to shooting their commercials and posters in Europe and casting Black people and People of Color here for their purposes.
Thanks to the Radiator Awards, the discussion about problematic donation advertising in the run-up to Christmas has also made it into Germany’s leading media. On “Let’s save Africa! – gone wrong”, for example, the Süddeutsche Zeitung has published an article. The racism researcher cited in it, Nadja Ofuatey-Alazard, has her say in a lengthy interview on Deutschlandradio Kultur and comments on the clip as follows:
On the blog “Africa is a country” Elliot Ross analyzes the changes in fundraising advertising of the British “charity-industrial complex”: from “disaster porn” to an aesthetic of absence. You can find the article here.
Berlin and other cities are once again full of new advertising campaigns by development NGOs before Christmas. Even if they are new images, the messages remain the same: If we do not take action here in the Global North, people in the Global South will starve and die of thirst. And it is made easier and easier for us to calm our conscience: we only have to send an “action” by sms to a number of terre des hommes or bite into a delicious UNESCO pizza and already we “free” children from work and misery. We may, of course, continue sponsorships, although the concept of paternalism-generating sponsorship programs has been heavily criticized even within the development scene for years.