Africa Without Pity – Stereotypes and Slum Tourism

How do you report from Africa without being patronising?

It is a topic that has been going through my mind for several days now.

Do the people in the slums really feel that Angelina Jolie cares about them, when she arrives in her private jet, stays at the best hotel in the country (if she stays there at all) then jets right out again.

Is there a danger that it can be seen as “do-gooder tourism”.

How do you leave the slums without feeling helpless, hopeless, daunted by the task ahead? And how do you cope with the stories you hear?

I watched Sian from Geek Is The New Chic interviewing a woman in Niger, who receives just four packets of cereals a month to feed a family of five. How do you go from seeing someone with nothing, get back into your van and drive back to the hotel then tuck into your evening meal? How do you walk away?

I could see how hard it was for Sian to see the suffering, and know how hard she has campaigned since returning to UK. Here is one of the ways in which she is helping those children in Niger.

Niger is facing very different problems to the ones that Kenya faces but there can be no denying that their standard of living is generally much lower than ours. They have one of the worlds largest growing populations, so will face a new set of challenges in the coming decades.

In one week I will be in Kenya and seeing for myself what life is like for the people there. We shall visit many people and hear many stories and I hope that I can do these people justice. That I can report openly, honestly and without patronising them or pitying them.

Don’t we all have pride, and hate to be pitied or patronised?

I came across this video recently, and wanted to share it.



Stop the Pity, Unlock the Potential – it is a good slogan.

Helping women in African countries access contraception means that ¬†they can take control of their lives, that they do not have to feel beholden to those who donate money or food. They want to provide for their families, to live independently rather than rely on foreign aid. Wouldn’t anyone?


  • Sian @geekisnewchic

    Thank you so much for mentioning my trip and in answer to your question…. the effects of the things that I saw run very deep. I feel that I HAVE to share the stories of the people that I met because tiny changes that we make can make a difference. The difference between life and death.
    Good luck on your trip and stay strong and positive, for the sake of the people you will be meeting. When you get home you can get angry and do something about it. x

  • World Vision UK

    Thank you for following Sian’s journey and #ShareNiger. We hope that by meeting those affected by the food crisis that feeling that both Sian and yourself have – that ‘How do I walk away?’ feeling – spreads through blogs such as this, and inspires the UK to give just a little bit to help those currently affected by the food crisis.

    Fantastic post.

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