“In some West African clinics and medical facilities, the faces of the lost health workers stare out from […]
When I was ten years old I attended a sleepaway camp outside of Nacogdoches, Texas, where I told a few hundred people, with great pleasure, that my name was Bernice, not Wayétu. My family had only emigrated from Liberia five years prior, and for two weeks I basked in the glorious trope of American normalcy; a name like Bernice was proper, distinct, pronounceable.
When I arrived home my father probed about my time away. After some banter he asked me: “What is your name?” I was caught. When he was finally content with my repetitions, he said “You must always be proud of who you are. Be proud of Africa.”
Robtel Neajai Pailey’s children’s book Gbagba is populated with characters bound to the changing meanings of ethics in […]
What Happened to Red Rooster When a Visitor Came is a parody about the dangers of inflated self-importance. […]
Released on Nov. 18 to fanfare in the United States, the ProPublica/Frontline investigative documentary ‘Firestone and the Warlord’ is nevertheless steeped in stereotypes, overly hyped and unappealing. Having intently studied and written about Firestone’s exploits in Liberia, I believe the film’s producers simply did not dig deep enough.
Although there are some merits to the documentary—particularly revelations from declassified court documents, US State Department cables, Firestone corporate records, correspondences, and video footage—it conceals more than it reveals the true nature of Firestone’s asymmetrical relationship with Liberia.
The duration of the passage and the dangers associated with it had prepared us for the worst, but the first few days of azure skies and blazing sun dispelled our fears. We sat on deck at sunset to while away the time, hardly ever sleeping for our excitement, and sometimes we sang and evoked life on the plantations until dawn. I would lean against the rail to relish the pleasant sea breeze and to gaze at the gleaming waters stretching endlessly around us. Occasionally, the sound of the waves lashing against the ship would reach me like a song from far across the ocean, soothing my nerves.
Meanwhile the ship edged on, tearing through the churning waters, moving further away from America and heading steadily toward our destination. There were days when I would chose to keep to myself, refusing to join Reverend Barclay and others for prayer.
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.