An upcoming public and policy engagement non-profit consultancy focusing on Social, Political and Ecological Justice issues in Afrika. We work and stand in solidarity with communities in mineral rich areas in Afrika and other global south environments.
We do not need Benevoluntourists! What on earth is benevoluntourism, you ask? Benevoluntourism is the ‘new’, in my view, neoliberal capitalist philanthropic movement.
This genre combines charitable acts, buttressed in ‘unpaid’ workforce from the global north. They tour global south contexts for one to three months, and then they become experts. The ‘postcolonial’ Afrika is awash with Benevoluntourists.
One of the striking features of this calibre of ‘new’ professionals is that they are youthful and arrogant. I recently came across an article titled “Love Letters to Tanzania: Good Citizenship, Whose Job is it?” by one Sabine Barbara, programme leader in education and expert teacher in Australia. She captures the epitome of benevoluntourists’ character.
They appear to have, what architects of globalisation thought they had, social, economic and environmental woes’ ‘silver bullet’. The narrative of their own context, in the global north, is given in summary.
The latter suggests that social, economic and environmental cancerous issues in their context are insignificant compared to those in the global south. They see their development as coming from hard work in the rain, ‘winterous’ blizzard and the heat of summer.
Benevoluntourists come to the ‘postcolonial’ environments with heads held high, clothed in superior beings’ aura. They are thirsty and ready to take the ‘world’ – the global south by its horns. When they speak, they spew blame to the victim, showing their own ignorance about their entitlement.
In the article elicited above, the writer boldly states “youths hanging [suggesting idling!] around their friends should take an initiative!” The experience of many youths in the ‘postcolonial’ environments in Afrika as elsewhere in the global south, “hanging around their friends” who own Bajajs/taxis is their way of taking initiative.
In their case, their friends who own Bajaj’s would teach them how to operate the little machine, introduce them to clients and let them take turn when they go for a lunch break. In turn the seeming ‘not-taking-initiative’ youth get a cut at the end of the day. Their day’s earnings would be for food, get some swag-on and make life worth living under the circumstances.
The article indirectly blames the victim living in an environment impoverished by the writer’s country of origin. The writer does ‘not’ know or understand what the youth in Tanzania and other ‘postcolonial’ environments and elsewhere in the global south go through.
It is a typical socioeconomic apologia given by every whitist for their entitlement. This is the attitude of benevoluntourists from the global north. These have not walked in the shoes of the youth in the ‘postcolonial’ environments.
The latter’s wealth and opportunities are appropriated and given to the whitist, entitled, ignorant and arrogant. The benevoluntourists’ forefathers’ thievery, which is the very foundation of their social and economic advancement, as well as continued barbaric activities in the ‘postcolonial’ environments, is seen as works of geniuses.
From their mouth and scribblings in the sand they quote the words of the great “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. What they do not ask is: what did my country do for me to behove me to do something for it? The whitists do not understand, hell they turn a blind eye to the complexity and the paradox that is the wealth and comforts they enjoy.
The attitudes in the classes, meetings and group discussions I have had, there is one glazed message: the global south, especially the ‘postcolonial’ Afrika, is poor, diseased, illiterate, ignorant and a danger to itself. Therefore, help is direly needed. Their speech is coated with, at best, simplistic ideals of how to change the world. Whether they understand the word change or not, is another question.
The volunteering opportunities in the ‘postcolonial’ environments are taken by benevoluntourists from the global north. Experientially, volunteering isn’t cheap either. One must have money, even in the global north, to volunteer. How can a youth whose heritage has been appropriated by the accuser, manage to get even bus fare to go volunteer when they cannot even afford a cup of tea.
While the rich kids from the ‘postcolonial’ environments are pulled to the north by proponents of the neoliberal capitalist market-led economy who are bedfellows with leaders in the global south.
The writer suggests that the youth should “fill potholes [on] the road” clearly she does not know how many potholes the youth in the ‘postcolonial’ environments had to create on the roads to get something to do to earn a living.
Therefore the citizenry in the ‘postcolonial’ environments echoes Lila Watson: “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us walk together”.