Monday, April 15, 2013

You can call me Al; Africa sings with the world!

Mama Hope uses
humor to change
the West's view
of Africa

Nyla Rodgers is one charity official who is fed up with the way nonprofits represent Africa. Too often she sees depictions of AIDS, warfare, famine, hopelessness, desperation, and dependence on a Western hero.

That kind of concern came to the surface when she saw the “Kony 2012” campaign by the advocacy group Invisible Children.

“When I saw the Kony campaign, it made me so mad,” says Ms. Rodgers, founding director of Mama Hope, a San Francisco charity that works in Ghana, Kenya,Tanzania, and Uganda to start farms and build schools, health centers, and other facilities that strengthen communities. But long before that campaign, her charity started working to create new perceptions of Africa and to show that it is full of capable people with the potential to support themselves. Her nonprofit has released three videos over the past year as part of its “Stop the Pity” campaign, using humor to create a new conversation about the continent and humanize the people who live there.

In the first, published in February 2011, a 9-year-old African boy explains in detail the plot of his favorite movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Commando.”
In another, Americans and Africans sing along to Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al.”