“Africa – we need to make a difference in Norway,” implores Rapper Breezy Vee in a video appeal viewed more than 1.6 million times so far. He is rapping for “Radi-Aid”.
“A lot of people aren’t aware of what’s going on there right now,” he intones, a la Feed the World, as images of a bitterly cold Norweigan winter appear on the screen.
The campaign is urging Africans to “spread some warmth” by donating heaters to Norway. And it is, of course, a spoof – one which presumably owes much to the Kony 2012. Remember that?
The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund, who dreamed up the project, explain their purpose this way:
Imagine if every person in Africa saw the Africa for Norway video, and this was the only information they ever got about Norway. What would they think about Norway? …
The pictures we usually see in fundraisers are of poor African children. Hunger and poverty is ugly, and it calls for action. But while these images can engage people in the short term, we are concerned that many people simply give up because it seems like nothing is getting better. Africa should not just be something that people either give to, or give up on.
The truth is that there are many positive developments in African countries, and we want these to become known. We need to change the simplistic explanations of problems in Africa. We need to educate ourselves on the complex issues and get more focus on how western countries have a negative impact on Africa’s development. If we want to address the problems the world is facing we need to do it based on knowledge and respect.
Long before Radi-Aid, however, before even Ali G, who at times occupied a similar territory, of sending up such unthinking, pious nonsense, was Chris Morris’s magnificent Brass Eye, which showed how willing celebrities and politicians – and anyone, really – can be to speak up for any old cause.