Awesome Africa

Happy Red Nose Day!

I hope that all of you watching in the UK enjoy the entertainment and dig deep for those who most need help in the UK and in Africa.

But like I said in my previous post, there’s SO much more to Africa than you can see in charity appeals like Red Nose Day. So today, upload a picture of Africa onto facebook or twitter (#awesomeafrica) and show your friends what an amazing and diverse continent it really is. Here are a few of the pics we’ve received already:


Comic Relief relief

by Zoe

I’ve always loved Red Nose Day. When I was younger, I would stay up until the early hours watching all the amusing shows and the seeing the fundraising total reach ever more incredible heights.

But there’s a dangerous side to Red Nose Day – and this is it: for many people in the UK, the stories about a wee girl in the slums who was born with no legs, and her brother who spends every day picking through broken glass to find grains of rice that he can sell (cue heart-wrenching music) are all that they have seen of Africa.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m going to bang on about it again. Africa is not a country. There are 54 African states, in which over 2000 languages are spoken. There is, of course, incredible poverty in Africa. There are also gold mines. There are mud huts. There are also five star hotels.

If you choose to visit ‘Africa’, you can: climb mountains; visit the beach; see the Pyramids; taste locally made wine; go white water rafting; see elephants and giraffes; visit ancient ruins; see a soothsayer; go to the largest waterfall in the world; ride a camel in the desert; go wind-surfing; sit on a crocodile or visit the rainforest.

It’s true that every picture tells a story. But it’s also true that every picture omits to tell a different story. For example…

…these are both photographs of African children:

Ghanaian lady and childCrying Ghanaian baby









…these are both photographs taken in African cities:

Rubbish heap GhanaCairo






…these are both photographs of African wildlife:

giraffe kenyaboat goat pelican Gambia






…and these are both African businesses:

nandosMabiley Pork Show Ghana





This Red Nose Day (Friday 15 March), please give generously. Comic Relief does amazing work, and we’ve been lucky enough to meet some of the beneficiaries during our time here.

But once you’ve given generously, try to do just one small thing to spread the word that there’s more to Africa than slums and starving children. Tell your friends about something or someone African that has inspired you. Put a positive photograph depicting somewhere or someone in Africa on Facebook or Twitter (#awesomeafrica). Help to spread the word that this continent, which accounts for 20.3% of the world’s landmass, is far more beautiful, diverse and inspirational than you might ever realise if you only watch the sob stories between Rowan Atkinson and Peter Kay’s Red Nose Day appearances.

More than one direction

by Zoe

One Direction came to Ghana last week on a tour for Comic Relief. After their visit, band member Niall Horan tweeted “I’ve seen the slums right in front of me! This is no joke! They really need your help! Poverty is real!

A number of Ghanaian celebrities criticised the band’s tweets, including actress Ama K Abrebrese, who wrote: “Your tweet about the slums and poverty of Accra, Ghana was very touching. However, next time, also tweet about the luxury hotel and beauty of the country you enjoyed…  There is more to Ghana, so much more.

Following their visit, E! Entertainment’s site wrote “The handsome boy-banders visited the impoverished village of Accra…” The ‘impoverished village of Accra’ is the capital of Ghana, a city with over 2 million residents, several malls and an international airport.

oxfamThis story is just one example of the way in which the media and even charity appeals can actually do harm in terms of public perception. In a recent Oxfam poll, more than half of people immediately mentioned hunger, famine or poverty when speaking about Africa. Indeed, Oxfam believe that the negative view of Africa in the UK is actually harming efforts to raise food aid for the continent, because people turn away from suffering when they believe that it’s so bad that they are unable to make a difference.

So how can we counteract this? Well, here are a few ideas:

  • Show a balanced viewpoint – it’s only fair.
  • Be aware of what you are comparing it to – for me, that’s the UK. And yes, there are things about the UK that I prefer to Ghana (mainly, the ease with which you can buy chocolate). But there are also many reasons why it is nicer to live here (the weather, for example. And the beef kebabs on every corner).
  • Be specific – Africa is not a country. You wouldn’t make a sweeping statement about the citizens of Europe, so why do it in Africa, with its 47 countries? It’s difficult to even generalize about Ghana, where there are over 70 languages spoken, and traditions and even the climate changes drastically if you travel from the north to the south.

We hope that our little blog will show you a balanced view of Tamale – of the good, the bad and the downright funny. And that you will remember while you are reading our views and opinions that they are just that – subjective – and that you will keep in mind that our tales and experiences are being formed in a tiny corner of this vast and extraordinary continent.

PS Honestly, what would you think of Norway if the only images you had seen of the country were the ones in this spoof charity single from Radi-aid?