Recently, I ordered a copy of writer Vamba Sherif’s novel, Bound to Secrecy. Originally published in Dutch, it was republished in English by London’s HopeRoad Publishing on April 23, 2015. Due either to the built-up fervor in me to sample the author’s work—which until this book, had not been available in English, or perhaps because of the deceptive lure of the book’s relatively short length—it is all of 162 pages, or both, I breezed through it in under three hours, in one sitting.

The Liberian civil war has given us narratives ranging from fiction to memoirs. These works are attempts to capture the various experiences and atrocities committed during the war, to inform us or remind us never to forget. One of the recent offerings is the memoir written by Momoh Dudu entitled Harrowing December: Recounting a Journey of Sorrows & Triumphs. The title alludes to Charles Taylor’s crossing of the Liberian border from the Ivory Coast in December 1989, and the onset of what would turn out to be the bloodiest war in the country’s history.

In a 2012 article published by The Atlantic, Nigerian writer Teju Cole exposed the white saviour industrial complex for what it is: a pathology of white privilege.

According to Cole, white saviours fundamentally believe they are indispensable to the very existence of those on the receiving end of their “interventions”. Like some potted plants, they tend to bloom in “exotic” environments far removed from their natural habitats.

At the height of Ebola, the myth of the white saviour has resurfaced again and again, framing Africans as infantile objects of external interventions. The white saviour complex has placed a premium on foreign expertise, while negating domestic capabilities.