We got this, Bob Geldof, so back off

For those who haven’t seen the responses coming out of Africa to the fourth appearance of the Band Aid single earlier this week, Al Jazeera collected a number of critiques of the ‘white saviour complex’ in this article. Ghanaian musician Fuse ODG wrote a comment piece for This Is Africa explaining why he turned down Geldof’s invitation to take part in the single. Another contributor put up an open letter to Sir Bob and the other artists involved, voicing ‘a few problems’ with the single – starting with the simple question: “Do Africans know it’s Christmas? Could you be more condescending?”

The same website also reminded readers that a collective of African musicians had already come together to record a (rather better) song to raise awareness of Ebola, and to send some money in the direction of MSF at the same time. Here it is:

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Posting on behalf of Ben Simms…

We will be exploring what lessons from the global response to HIV can be applied to the 2014 outbreak of ebola in West Africa. As the number of deaths approaches 5,000, we will explore the epidemiological, cultural, and political dimensions of ebola and HIV. Speakers include Dr Edwin Mapara, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Dr Mit Philips, Médecins Sans Frontières. The discussion will be chaired byBaroness Barker. Further speakers to be confirmed.




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15th November, Health in Action conference

Health in Action
Medact and Health Poverty Action
15 November 2014
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Guest speakers include:
Mary O’Hara, author of Austerity Bites
Anuj Kapilashrami, People’s Health Movement
Danny Kushlik, Director of Transform Drug Policy Foundation

Social, economic and political determinants of health all up for discussion and debate and the day includes the launch of Global Health Watch 4

http://www.medact.org for more information and to book a ticket

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Does the language of ‘development’ matter?

This blog in the Guardian will be familiar ground for Progressive Development Forum members. But please feel free to comment on the Guardian website to get the debate going.


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Strong challenge to NGO working practices

A great recent article by Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, head of Civicus. Well worth sharing.


We’ve adopted the strategic planning and management tools of the power structures we should be challenging.

We’re settling for incremental change – quantifiable outocmes that appleal to donors.

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Honest Accounts – the True Story of Africa’s billion dollar losses

Some organisations involved in the Progressive Development Forum alongside a number of African partners recently published the report ‘Honest Accounts’ This report, briefing and animation (below) quantifies the resource flows in and out of sub Saharan Africa, across a wide range of areas. It shows that inflows on $134 per year compared to outflows of $192 leaving a $58 billion dollar net loss each year.

Africa is losing:
• $46.3 billion in profits made by multinational companies
• $21 billion in debt payments, often following irresponsible loans
• $35.3 billion in illicit financial flows facilitated by the global network of tax havens
• $23.4 billion in foreign currency reserves given as loans to other governments
• $17 billion in illegal logging
• $1.3 billion in illegal fishing
• $6 billion as a result of the migration of skilled workers from Africa

In addition to these resource flows Africa is forced to pay a further:
• $10.6 billion to adapt to the effects of climate change that it did not cause
• $26 billion to promote low carbon economic growth

This provides a challenge to the idea that we are generously ‘aiding’ Africa and demands action on the structural causes of poverty. We also have a manifesto action targeting party leaders calling for ‘honest accounts’ of our financial relationship with Africa which you can take here.

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“The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.”

This is an old piece but it’s worth sharing. Nigerian born, US based writer Teju Cole on the ‘white saviour industrial complex’. I used one of his tweets recently in a report and a presentation – here’s a link to the full list of his tweets on this topic and his article that’s very relevant to debates on development, privilege and ‘helping Africa’. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/

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