Africa: helping American stars feel better since 1884

2013-10-20 10:00

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Christina Aguilera, the ambassador for the World Food Programme (WFP), recently went to “war-torn Rwanda”, People Magazine tells us. Well, thankfully, she made it back home safely.

I’m not sure exactly which war People Magazine is referring to – last time I checked, the civil war in Rwanda ended 20 years ago.

Also, Rwanda is an entire country. Where in Rwanda was Aguilera?

The song the children are singing in the video of her trip is, of course, inaudible but Aguilera’s is crystal clear.

Her Light Up The Sky forms the background to the video. Interestingly, one word from the kids’ song in Kinyarwanda is clear: “tuzarwubaka”, meaning “we will build it (the country)”.

This would seem to indicate that meaningless charity is not what they have in mind but rather that they are actively engaged. Of course, this is lost to all the non-Kinyarwanda speakers.

After insisting that “the people of Rwanda?...?are in a place that needs our help”, Aguilera says: “This trip came at a time when I needed to step away and connect with bigger issues in the world.”

Africa: helping white people who are a wee bit down-in-the-dumps feel better since 1884.

Even if we were to accept this blatant fallacy that Rwanda is a “war-torn” place, what kinds of superpowers do Aguilera and the WFP have to make them think they alone could change such a situation?

War and poverty are the result of larger structural inequalities, part of larger historical and political circumstances that no individual can resolve.

And certainly not Hollywood-style celebrities à la Ms Aguilera. Stick to your various professions, thank you very much.

Also, the participating “restaurants” to help world hunger in partnership with the WFP are KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Seriously, junk food outlets helping end “world hunger”? This partnership couldn’t be more ironic.

The video ends with Aguilera singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to a group of children.

One among them is singing along and Aguilera seems a bit surprised. Too unfathomable that children of “war-torn Rwanda” might know an English nursery rhyme?

Welcome to the 21st century, Ms Aguilera!

»?This column first appeared on the blog Africa is a Country (www.africasacountry.com)

»?Nsabimana is a PhD candidate in anthropology at Columbia University

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