Changing the white saviour complex narrative

Challenging the manner in which development and evangelical work are carried out in Africa.

“No White Saviors” is a campaign launched by Kelsey Nielsen and Olivia Alaso, with the idea of challenging the manner in which development and evangelical work are carried out in Africa. Their goal is to plant the spotlight on the discrimination in development narratives and the relationship between races.

Earlier this year, English television presenter and documentary filmmaker, Stacey Dooley, posted photos on Instagram of local women dancing and children she met while filming a series of documentaries. The photos sparked outrage on social media, reigniting the conversation of “white saviour complex”.

Comic Relief, the organization Dooley was shooting for, had pledged to cease using celebrities for “poverty porn” in the recent past. CEO of Comic Relief, Liz Warner, said in a statement, that the organization had taken steps towards changing this. Only after David Lammy MP, a British Labour Party politician, criticized them for portraying Africa as a continent of poverty-stricken victims and other stereotypes.

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The No White Saviours (NWS) campaign was started with the goal to rectify instances like that of Dooley and her ilk. The NWS website explains that the largely female East African group is shining the spotlight on the problematic ways in which the white saviour complex manifests on the continent. Expressing that the epidemic had nestled into the very fabric of society. The black worker receives a lower remuneration than his white counterpart.

Nielsen hails from an evangelical family and arrived in Uganda suffering the same ideological bias as any other white development worker. The irony of her being a part of NWS is obvious but indicates that change is indeed possible. She is currently working with a number of organizations to educate as many people as possible on racial discrimination.

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