On 31 March 2019, Los Angeles-based African-American rapper, songwriter and entrepreneur Ermias Joseph Asghedom, known professionally as Nipsey Hussle was gunned down outside his clothing company by another African-American. Hussle originally from Eritrea in the Horn of Africa, was renowned in the rap world as a community empowerment activist.
Amongst the many gestures to celebrate his life and show solidarity with his family was the establishment of a GoFundMe with the goal of raising $100,000 for Nipsey's children. Nipsey’s family expressed gratitude for this gesture but rejected the fund-raising initiative.
The family explained that Nipsey left his family financially secure, so the charity gesture was not necessary. The GoFundMe has been taken off the internet. Nipsey was a savvy businessman who owned all his master recordings, his Marathon Clothing store, and who established multiple trust funds to make sure his kids and family would never need a handout.
Last year, India rejected humanitarian aid for disaster relief in the flood-stricken southern state of Kerala. In the past 14 years, India has refused aid from Russia, US and Japan for Uttarakhand floods in 2013, and for the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 and floods in Kashmir in 2014. India has remained committed to its policy of not accepting disaster aid from foreign countries but instead depending solely on domestic resources.
This policy emerged out of the humanitarian response to the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004 by then prime minister Manmohan Singh. Since then, this position has increasingly positioned India more as an aid donor and less as aid recipient.
The world watched the politicization of humanitarian assistance as Venezuela opposing leaders used humanitarian aid in their fight for political legitimacy. Venezuela’s President, Nicolás Maduro, rejected aid on grounds that accepting aid would turn Venezuela into a country of “beggars.” Opposing leader Juan Guaidó linked his effort to legitimize his Presidency to the urgent need for humanitarian aid to Venezuela claiming that the humanitarian assistance trucks stuck in Colombia are intended for lifesaving.
This would not be the first time Venezuela is rejecting aid. `After a devastating flood in Venezuela in 1999, the government rejected emergency aid from the U.S, arguing that receiving aid would a threat to national sovereignty. While over 50 countries gathered to implore Venezuela to receive aid, many groups from Latin America applauded President Maduro’s decision to reject aid.
In Cuba, groups of students, intellectuals, unions and social leaders collected signatures in support of Venezuela and President Nicolas Maduro. In Paraguay, a similar group delivered a "letter to the Paraguayan government", requesting the respect of the Venezuelan people's right to self-determination. In Ecuador, at least 100 representatives of journalists, artists, politicians and social movements rallied in support of foreign intervention of any kind.
Charlotte Dany in reflecting why on humanitarian aid is rejected at the 7th European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference in Bordeaux France noted that: “At least sixteen cases can be identified, in which states – autocracies and democracies alike – rejected humanitarian aid after severe natural disasters since the mid-1980s.’’ She observed further that between 1984 – 2012 some of these countries included Japan, the United States, the Philippines, Turkey, Venezuela, India, Russia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Indonesia. Not one of these countries is from Africa.
I have visited many communities mainly in Africa supposedly starving but discarding bags of food aid, mainly one form of grains or the other, shipped in from the West. In one instance, this community refused to accept the distribution of red sorghum because it is difficult to mill and/or to boil for consumption. Boiling red sorghum requires high heat, a lot of energy and firewood which the drought affected community did not have. Knowing this, the Western country continues to ship red sorghum to these people and the government receives it and stores it in warehouses unused.
A special message to African countries dependent on humanitarian aid/funding annually without reflecting on what this says about national statements of growth and economic aspiration; appealing for humanitarian aid makes a louder statement.