African curiosities,  Life story

White savior complex

White savior complex (hereinafter WSK) or white man rescue complex (as I would translate it) is a term explaining a white's rescue tendency toward a non-white race. The theory explains that this tendency is driven selfish reason. Simply put, white man helps mainly because that he himself may gain. WSK is often associated with non-profits and charitieswhich benefit from the poverty and underdevelopment of certain countries. I've already uploaded a podcast on a similar topic: Why I am against helping Africa from the West.

However, this article does not aim to condemn all non-profits, charities or humanitarian organizations operating in third world countries. I know a lot of non-profits who do their job well and to the greater good of others. One example of a well-run non-profit organization is, for example Change Tomorrow and there are definitely more.

Volunteers from the developed West having a white savior complex

When I was in Togo, I met a lot European volunteerswho worked for international or national nonprofits. Their task was to present a development plan, which was mostly drawn up in Europe without the volunteer first visiting and analyzing the developing country. Such volunteers often put themselves in the position of those "Smarter, more educated, more civilized" and they were convinced that they could help Togo become a developed country.

I will not hide the fact that I am to some extent The White Savior experienced the complex. Before I came to Togo, I was asked by a local non-profit to work out a communication plan. I was surprised at how much confidence my employer had in me without verifying my education or expertise. Everything I suggested was done automatically. That, to a large extent, strengthened my White Savior Complex. It took me another x years to realize that I was experiencing it.

Feeling of superiority

When I talked to the other volunteers, I often heard opinions: "Who but the people of the developed West can help poor Africa?" And I ask: How is it possible that the "Africa" ​​does not change and remains undeveloped despite the long-term efforts of many globally registered nonprofits and charities? She also asked this question Dambisa Moyo, President of Economic Research and Strategy for Goldman Sachs and a former consultant for the World Bank. She found that $ 1 trillion had been "poured" into aid to developing countries. Despite this, Africa is still the least developed continent and does not have a sustainable economy. How can anyone think that they can change a country in which they have never lived and do not know its population? Where in the West does a sense of superiority come from that only he can help Africa? ”

White savior complex

Non-profits that feed themselves

I emphasize again that not all non-profits and humanitarian organizations are bad. In this article, I focus on those whose activities are not best set up in my opinion. So what do I see as the problem and what should volunteers find out in advance?

Definitely, how credible the nonprofit is and how it handles the moneywhich are sent to the organization. According to Reader's Digest, one American non-profit used only 3% of the money sent for development, the remaining 97% was used for the running of the organization and support for employees. This finding only confirmed the words of one of my colleagues from WTFO-Europe (which is, among other things, an organization that makes sense), which explained to me that it is almost impossible to get rid of the captured system of development of African countries conducted by the West, because it contains large amount of money and jobs. Then she told me: "No one in the West wants this carousel to stop. At the same time, however, they do not realize the damage they are causing to underdeveloped countries. ”

Let's help based on local needs

Let us not bring food to those who are thirsty. It is noble to design a development plan with the best consciousness and conscience, however, if we do not analyze what the locals need before, all the energy will be wasted. I know my own. Once a Togolese non-profit, AME bought a mill with the idea of ​​simplifying work for locals. You can read how it turned out <a href="https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1932/8043/files/Odstoupeni_od_smlouvy_EN.pdf?v=1595420299" data-gt-href-en="https://en.notsofunnyany.com/">HERE</a>.

Let's drop our ego together with white savior complex and let us face the same people as the people we help. Let's not put ourselves in the position of a superior. Not only will they be more shared, but they won't feel like those who don't know, don't know. Let's approach the people we help as to partners, not like the inferior ones. I would like to add that I would also not like if, for example, people from Asia felt superior to Europeans and started helping Czechs in need according to their cultural and value rankings. It just doesn't work, so let's not do it that way.

Negative consequences of white savior complex

Let's say that the organization with the entrusted money manages well and sufficiently analyzes the local situation. There are a large number of such companies worldwide, and I am convinced that they themselves are convinced that they are helping the world to be a better place to live. Although it may seem bold to what I'm saying. Providing financial assistance does not always lead to a country's long-term sustainable economy. He's talking beautifully about it Dambisa Moyo in the book Dead Aid: Why Aid is not working and Haw There is a Better Way for Africa.

Dependence on external financial assistance

One of negative factscaused by external financial assistance is creating dependence on external assistance. It's such a vicious circle. Instead of the people of developing countries they taught themselves how to raise money, they rely on someone sending them to them one day. If I apply this to the Tožans and add to this their faith in God and incredible patience, I can say with a clear conscience that a considerable percentage of them have been waiting all their lives for someone of misery to help them one day. They have it so learned.

Another thing is that by sending money to poor countries, it re-establishes the relationship between the superior and the subordinate. Now, however, I do not mean humanitarian aid in the event of natural disasters or financial support for health care. I'm just talking about "Pumping" money into a corrupt system. Such a setting does not help in society. Few money gets to those who really need it. Isn't there a better place to "help" take poor companies as business partners? Create jobs and give them the opportunity to develop through their own efforts. The most sustainable thing in life is what people build themselves, not when something falls into their laps.

If we really want to help, it would be great to African countries send financial literacy experts and teach residents to manage money. In my experience, the Tožans live from day to day, they can't save, some financial pillow doesn't tell them anything. They don't know what an investment is and how to use money to make them more money. With such a financial mentality, in my opinion, we will not be able to develop.

Revaluation of whites and underestimation of colors

Whenever I was looking for a job in Togo, I was not short of a shortage of offers. And I am talking about a country where up to 80% are (unofficially) unemployed. It was repeated to me over and over again that I would always find a job as a white person. A paradox to today's situation, when, on the contrary, we hear that my colored husband will not just get a job in the Czech Republic. When looking for a job, I sent my CV, but I never had to show my diplomas, somehow it was automatically calculated that I had them (I really have them). Eventually, I took the position of professor of English and communication at a private university and had access to a test sample of more than 200 students. I made good use of it and kept asking about things that didn't make sense to me. Why are whites better in your eyes than the locals? Why do you consider them more educated? Why do you give them your jobs when you don't have a job yourself? There were many answers. This article would not be enough for me. However, mostly students answered me as follows: "Whites have access to a better education, what is from whites it is automatically better, whites are more organized, more reliable, etc."

Marketing move

I will not lie when I say that I was accepted to the school mainly for marketing reasons. It was great to say that a white woman would be teaching at a beginning private university. 80% more new students started the given school year. Students often told me that if they had to choose between a European or an African teacher, they would choose the European one - meaning white. That seemed to me quite unfair to my Togolese colleagues. I was surrounded by very smart people who, unfortunately, were not appreciated in the eyes of their students. That's why I formed the opinion that rather than sending white teachers to the villages, I would rather organize as a non-profit training of local teachers (preferably those who have just left their studies), she handed over materials and taught them teaching methods that have a positive effect on young pupils. In this way, the new generation would be educated by their teachers, who do a good job and which the pupils would be proud of.

Be aware of the white savior complex

What was interesting to me was the fact that when I talk about the white savior complex, few can admit that African states do not need help. I still meet with the opinion that developing countries need help from abroad (understand from Europe or the USA). It is a pity that Africans themselves do not see their continental power and cannot unite as a continent (of course, their mentality plays a big role in that they do not trust each other and sink each other rather than hold on). What I wanted to say, however, is that many Czechs still think that we should help African countries, pass on our values ​​to them and, in general, turn Africa into a second Europe. Well, I don't think that's the right solution. I myself would like to see African states completely without external financial assistance (leaving only what is absolutely necessary in health care) and let them help themselves and start cooperating with other African countries. But maybe it would be a thorn in the side of the West. The fact that Africa as a continent is getting back on its feet…

Sources:

https://ssir.org/books/reviews/entry/dead_aid_dambisa_moyo

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/13/why-trying-to-help-poor-countries-might-actually-hurt-them/

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Did you like the article? Do you share my opinion with me or do you have a different view of the situation? Comment below the article.

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One comment

  • Mother

    Great written. I have a friend, Kenanka, and we've been discussing this topic for a long time. In principle, she agreed with what you were writing, and added that the greatest enemy of the African man is himself, that they themselves take on the development by often looking to the West as something better (as you write about the situation at university), a place to develop and support themselves. But again, this is a consequence of WSK, how the West of the Meeting presents itself to them as a savior and role model.

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