I found this interview and topic to be provacative. As the director of a program that seeks to help young students consider others dignity as well as their own, I am contemplating how to reconcile Binyavanga Wainaina's comments with our Western desire to "do good." I have many more questions than anwers. How should young Western students, just beginnning to see a world beyond their own needs, view the many less fortunate people of the world? Is there a place for extending the hand of friendship to achieve a better life for all? How does one "do good" with dignity? Have we, as Western "do gooders" cultivated a culture of expectation of "doing for" rather than "doing with" our African neighbors? Our school went to Ghana to establish a partnership with a small school in Accra. We naively wanted to have a "partnership" where our students exchanged stories with their counterparts in Ghana of their respective cultures. The school needed help with computers to facilitate this exchange so we helped. Then there was a request for providing soccer uniforms. The director of the school said to us, " We know you want our culture and what we need is uniforms." This partnership has not been sustained. We obviously had very different expectations. If our young people are to become compassionate citizens of the world who may choose to work on solutions to the many challenges that developing countries face, what is a dignified course of action? Is there a place for compassionate, yet sustaining aid?
More information about text formats