One of the perks of being a celebrity is that the popularity and media attention can be used for good. Whether celebrities use their name to save animals, build schools for underprivileged kids, or raise money to fight poverty across the world is their choice. But many choose to use their name for good in a way to give back.
One Direction raises money for British charity Comic Relief
In her novel Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo is critical of the ways Western countries are attempting to fight poverty in Africa. Moyo says her “voice can’t compete with an electric guitar.” For her, the outreach of these celebrities overshadows the work anyone else can do in the country. Moyo says these high-profile individuals take the spotlight off the real problem in Africa, and cites the lack of involvement of Africans in these decisions.
Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame feels this Western aid isn’t doing much to help the continent.“The primary reason [that there is little to show for the more than $300 billion of aid that has gone to Africa since 1970] is that in the context of post-Second World War geopolitical and strategic rivalries and economic interests, much of this aid was spent on creating and sustaining client regimes of one type or another, with minimal regard to developmental outcomes on our continent.”
Kagame is speaking about the competing interests of the US and Soviet Union after World War 2. He implies the countries used the facade of international aid to establish power across Africa. As the countries fought against each other, each was more focused on furthering individual agendas than planning long-term development projects. I think Kagame has a solid point; there is little evidence projects from the years following World War 2 have been successful in Africa.
Moyo argues one of the reasons aid isn’t working is because of geography. She quotes Jared Diamond as saying that a country’s “wealth and success depend on its geographical environment and topography.” Moyo says environments that can be easily manipulated into domesticating plants and animals are more likely to be successful. However, this argument may not be valid because Africa has an abundance of land and resources. The inability to manage these resources has prevented many countries, such as Nigeria and Angola, from finding economic success.
Another reason Moyo suggests for aid failure is a series of historical factories, namely colonialism. When countries began colonizing Africa, many instituted political rule that wasn’t suitable for indigenous populations. At the 1885 Berlin Conference, 14 countries created African colonies, effectively dividing populations that could have cooperated into areas ruled by separate leaders. However, I think it should be argued that other countries were split by separate rulers and later found economic success. For example, America was colonized by multiple countries at once, but once reunited, was able to become a successful economy.
Overall, it can be argued that aid is inefficient and many reasons have caused Africa to be in the place it is economically. However, I don’t think anyone can be faulted for attempting to give aid. While their attempts may be misguided, their hearts are in the right place.