As an international student in North America in the late 90s, I recalled how infuriated I was going to the malls around the Christmas season. By early November, the malls are flooded with images of starving African children on card boards under charity organization logos appealing for aid. I felt these were an assault to the joy-full memories of Christmas I had growing up in Nigeria.
We did not have presents under the trees, etc., but we had other culturally appropriate ways we celebrated Christmas; certainly, the image of children with flies on their faces was not one of them, but these were mostly the images of African children that flooded the malls and charity fundraising drives on television around this time.
It is now November and many charities around the world are presently gearing up for the regular Yuletide fund raising drive. Please we ask you kindly not to resort to deplorable and demeaning images of African children for fundraising. Humanitarian aid agencies and charity fundraising drives play a significant role in interpreting the way that much of the African continent is understood and framed for non-African audiences.
Fundraising appeals are often criticized for using negative stereotypes, but according to a 2016 Aljazeera article “Does Charities have an image problem?, NGOs say other tactics often don't work: “while the original Band Aid was widely lauded in the media, Band Aid 30 - formed to raise money to fight Ebola in West Africa - drew considerable backlash, largely from African commentators.” The article noted. “Countless others logged on to Twitter to air their distaste at what they described as the pitying lyrics and white saviourism of the song "Do They Know It's Christmas", using hashtags such as #DoTheyKnowItsOffensive and #AfricansAgainstBandAid.”
The article notes further that “For decades, non-governmental organisations have been criticised for portraying people in the global South as helpless and passive. In countless surveys, respondents have said they are sick of seeing guilt-tripping appeals. And since the 1980s, some NGOs have themselves subscribed to codes of conduct against using "pathetic images". So why are such images still around? The answer, in short, is that they work.”; observers have noted that “exploitative photos of the poor are creeping back as a way to boost fundraising efforts.”
Yes, there are crisis in the continent, including children facing displacement, but they are not waiting for handouts. They are resourceful and empowered. I recently returned from commiserating with internally displaced people at the camp in Somali region of Ethiopia. I met a 12-year old young brilliant girl at the camp, she is not waiting for handouts, she is already building a reputation as a budding designer as well as going to school. I did not find any malnourished child or any with flies on their faces.
Charity fundraising drives and campaigns do not and should not justify the use of negative images; the long-term effect is counter-productive with serious negative impact on the long term economic solvency of the country. Humanitarian aid and action should do no harm, and when a country’s image is damaged in the process of raising funds for humanitarian action, that is doing harm, this becomes a violation of core humanitarian principles.
And no matter how serious some of the crisis are, as Comedian Trevor Noah’s explains, Africans can waive their hands in front of their faces to drive the flies away.
Enough already, we have come a long way in our humanity, surely, please, we do not have to see humanity in its undignified state for us to help.
 https://eujournal.org/index.php/esj/article/viewFile/965/996 European Scientific Journal April 2013 edition vol.9, No.11 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431