The new fun EZ

brave typesWith the slogan “Brave types – extremely help” the Hamburg campaign Viva con Aqua writes out at present a journey to Uganda as price for a profit play. The tender text states:

“You will fly from Germany to Uganda accompanied by a Viva-con-Agua staff member on 18.03.2016. […] In Kampala you will meet Nobert Latim and Papa Shabani, co-founders of the crew Viva con Agua Kampala. You will accompany them in their everyday life and get to know other friends, artists and supporters of Viva con Agua in Uganda. Together you are preparing for the upcoming World Water Day on 22/03/2016: Some music and art activities and WASH workshops are planned in the Moroto project area. On 23.03.2016 you will travel back to Kampala with the Viva con Agua activists. On the two following days, workshops, music and art events, incl. Song and video shoot planned. All this will then culminate in the WELOVEYOUGANDA Music- & Artfestival #2 on Saturday, 26.03.2016. On 27.03. you will take the return flight from Kampala (Entebbe), so that you will be back in Germany on 28.03.2016.”

Actions like these are to be questioned not only under racism-critical points of view, but even development-politically very much. You could dismiss it as a barely noteworthy Twitter ad and pay no further attention to the action. However, we observe, that the action is representative of a current phenomenon we call fun EZ. There are currently a large number of new development policy organizations founded by young Germans. Most of them are former weltwärts volunteers or students. Many of these organizations carry out project work in a way that has not been done by many established development NGOs since the 1980s: Schools and wells are built, and a board member of the German organization jets to each construction phase and cuts the red ribbon. Board members are often in their early twenties and proudly hand out business cards here and there that say “CEO” or “Project Manager.” Besides a rather explicit sense of arrogance, many of these organizations have one thing in common: their own fun comes first and is labeled as commitment through project activities in the Global South. In addition to extensive project trips, this means above all that a lot of emphasis is placed on fun fundraising: Parties, festivals and mulled wine sales. Unfortunately, political education and campaign work usually fall by the wayside, as does postcolonial reflection on one’s own role.