Think Norway. What occurs to your mind?
A beautiful country up in the north, where it snows, its all peaceful, no crime. No?
Think Africa. What crops up in the same head?
Poverty, AIDS, famine, a picture of a starved kid pops up in imagination, and for some well informed perhaps they think of it’s corrupt leaders. Yes?
BTW, don’t you know Africa is not a country but a second largest continent?
It comprises of 57 countries, each with a distinct culture, language and of course like any other country, each of them have their distinct problems.
So will it be justified to summarize all these sovereign states with just four or five issues, that too very negative.
Why did this stereotyping occur?
The answer is simple. Disinformation.
Of course through the various advertisements from the social sector, that with all their good intentions wish to collect funds for development in the continent. And the media, that through its good intentions tries to highlight to the world the grave issues they face. However, despite their good intentions, they end up creating a negative stereotype.
Ever thought what must Africans be thinking or feeling of this stereotyping of them?
It is not that such issues do not exist, they do, but then this is not all, about Africa.
To highlight this negative stereotyping, without lashing out in anger, a group has come out with an extremely creative and cheeky parody called “Africa for Norway” with the message:
“ 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?”
Also imagine if they also used picture of a Norwegian child shivering in cold, without permission from those concerned?
Here is the parody “Africa for Norway” :
What message do they want to convey through this initiative?
1.Fundraising should not be based on exploiting stereotypes.
2. We want better information about what is going on in the world, in schools, in TV and media.
3.Media: Show respect.
4.Aid must be based on real needs, not “good” intentions.
For more details on the brilliant project click>> Radi-Aid .
Coming closer to home, who would know more about stereotype than Pakistanis and Muslims with a “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist.” being their holy passport to the outside world.
On a personal note:
Growing up as a minority Muslim in a metropolitan New Delhi, India, I came across some curious stereotypes:
- How many wives does your father have?
- Why doesn’t your mother wear a burqa or why doesn’t your father have a beard?
- Is you father a professor of Urdu in Delhi University?
- Do you eat Biryani everyday?
Equally ridiculous questions were asked when I came two decades ago, as a newly married immigrant to the megacity Karachi in Pakistan:
- Are you a Hindu? (On wearing a saree and bindi together, and being of Indian origin).
- Did you have Hindu friends?
- Did you ever eat food in Hindu households?
- Kya India mein VCR hota hai? (Are there VCRs in India?) ( The last curious query sounds hilarious 😀 now, but it almost got me crying as a new immigrant. Those were the days when India had only Fiat, Ambassador or Maruti cars, no Sony TVs and yes, not even StarPlus channels 🙂 ).
Not sure if these stereotypes were also created through media !