Saturday, August 12, 2006

Into Africa

Barry Sherbeck in the ny times

AS the house lights dim for the second act of each performance of Madonna’s “Confessions” tour, the singer, wearing a crown of thorns, begins her 1986 anthem, “Live to Tell,” while her body hangs in mock crucifixion on a cross glittering with the mirrored tiles of a disco ball.

Madonna has been riffing on crucifix imagery for two decades. What hauls the entire tableau vivant into the present are the images flickering behind her on screens: close-ups of African children, staring with mournful eyes, superimposed over crackling flames and a running ticker, which tallies at 12 million the number of children orphaned by AIDS in Africa.

That Madonna should suddenly be casting an ice-blue eye toward Africa should hardly be surprising. After all, she has always known how to spot a trend. [...]

Those newly interested in the continent have been motivated by different atrocities. For some it has been the genocide in Darfur; for others, AIDS orphans. But regardless of anyone’s specific interest, most people consistently describe being attracted by what they see as a clarity — both political and moral — in Africa’s problems.

“I ask myself, ‘Why Africa?’ Why am I not motivated by Iran or something,” said Genevieve Parker, a 17-year-old student at the Potomac School in McLean, Va., who just returned from a summer trip to Ethiopia where she helped install pipes for an irrigation system. “It’s just because I don’t understand what’s going on: who are the good people, who are the bad?”

In Africa, Ms. Parker said: “there are a lot of problems, but you can group them in together. I can organize Africa in my head, in terms of poverty, droughts, even governments.’’
(read more)


At 5:19 PM, Blogger brownfemipower said...

my good god, just when I think I can't be surprised anymore, some marvolous person treats me to a surprise i never dreamed of. what in the hell?????

At 7:16 PM, Blogger piny said...

"Iran just isn't sexy, you know? Plus, they're like terrorists and stuff."

Wow. I've encountered infantilizing aid philosophies before, but I've never seen someone go right ahead and openly prefer a continent because they find it easier to infantilize its people.


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