In 1974, photographer Daniel Sorine stumbled upon two mimes in Central Park and took a few moments to photograph the duo as they quietly performed. Almost 35 years later, the New York-based photographer came across the negatives and realized that one of those talented fellows in the park was actually a young Robin Williams.
But Confucius has answered them with the final whistle, it’s all over. Germany, having trounced England’s famous midfield trio of Bentham, Locke and Hobbes in the semi-final, have been beaten by the odd goal.
Depending on where you live, these are the diseases that will most likely kill you. Using data from the World Health Organization, Simran Khosla at the the GlobalPost labeled each nation with the disease that caused the most death in that country.
And it seems like much of the world will succumb to heart disease. Most prevalent in Africa is HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. You can zoom in on the other regions at GlobalPost.
You’ve surely seen the photos. The color-faded selfies of the celebrity gazing soberly into the camera holding a sign with a hashtag, “Bring Back Our Girls” or “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.” It is a sentimental image. It is a noble purpose. And it is completely arrogant: a deification of fleeting sympathy and western ignorance.
Let me step back. I applaud awareness of human rights abuses. If twitter, selfies, and hashtags are the medium to raise awareness with an audience that wouldn’t otherwise get involved, then use any means possible. But that is where the train stops just before it rolls right off the tracks. What is required are tangible responsible actions beyond self-congratulatory showmanship.
Let’s set one thing straight: Boko Haram is not on Twitter. Its not an organization swayed by western sympathy or popular opinion. The western social media campaign popularizes a recent horrible act, but Nigerians have been living in fear of Boko Haram for 5 years. Forced servitude of children has been a happening for decades. Boko Haram in particular targets schools because they are defenseless, glamorous targets, and a font of western education.
During this time, media in the west has only given Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, passing glances. President Obama’s foreign policy agenda has barely touched the continent beyond the Libyan air campaign. In Egypt we have continually backed the wrong horse. We didn’t even go in to Mali except to ferry France’s troops into their old stomping grounds. In Syria, western countries couldn’t come to a consensus and Obama had to back pedal to avoid getting the US into another unpopular conflict. Aid funding for developmental programs in the continent are epidemically low.
Its too late to play the white savior of black Africa, and only smacks of post-colonial oppression, which is the same narrative Boko Haram uses to recruit. Ergo, inciting a quick and half-hearted response only feeds the malcontents. Social media campaigns work for quick, decisive action, but aren’t the mode for prolonged effort and civil reform, and that is what Nigerians need.
“In 2010, approximately 65 percent of primary school children in the North were male and 35 percent were female. Nationally, whereas 76 percent of Nigerian boys (age 15-24) are literate, only 58 percent of Nigerian girls in the same age group can read. By comparison, in Kenya, 82 percent of girls and 83 percent of boys are literate; and literacy among youth in Brazil is 98 percent for girls and 97 percent for boys. Nigerians view their booming population — the largest in Africa at nearly 170 million — as an asset. But with too few young people receiving an adequate education, it might well be a risk to development, prosperity, and security instead.” [cited from Foreign Affairs]
Twitter campaigns and celebrity selfies glorify aid without actually giving it, leading to strong and wrong reactions by western militaries. Further instigation for a quick and tidy response (U.S. Special Forces), which is the only conflict western states, particularly the United States can stomach, only results in prolonged suffering through violence. Nigeria requires legitimate infrastructure and a government not only focused on eradicating Boko Haram, but also focused on gender equality, closing the income gap, and civil rights.
My biggest issue with the viral campaign is that it gives the audience no outlet but to spread the contagion without actually doing any good. This is how fads wear out, and philanthropy should never go out of style.
Here are some worthy organizations. Not all of them are in Nigeria due to the political climate, but they are all highly respected, very efficient, and doing fantastic work.
Refugee resettlement and aid:
Helping women and girls across Africa:
Championing of human rights across the globe:
Helping Catholic girls in Nigeria:
Educate yourself, educate others, donate and/or get involved, but don’t let hashtags be your only humanitarian response.
Private First Class. Margerum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, walks the road through a peaceful forest in the Bastogne area, as he returns from the front lines. Belgium or Luxembourg. 12/27/1944