A music video that mocks the patronising and misguided appeals for Africa has been viewed by more than one million people.

Called: “Africa for Norway” it appeals to Africans to donate their radiators to the frost-bitten people of frozen Norway.

“We were astonished by how well it’s going,” says Anja Bakken Riise, of ‘Radi-Aid’ the spoof aid agency that made the video.

“We have had media coverage and emails from all around the world.”

Poking fun

The slickly made film is a spoof of the many appeals that have been made down the years. Produced for SAIH – the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund – their website hosts a range of video clips that they object to.

This includes the famous Band Aid appeal of the 1980’s.

It also links to other spoof aid videos, including a brilliant appeal by the South African comedian, Trevor Noah for help for an American family that lost its jacuzzi and had to abandon breast implants in tough times.

‘Oh dear-ism’

It is not his first critique of the aid-industry. A take-off of Unicef ads is one of several that he has made criticising this style of fund raising.

Among the videos explaining the rise of this kind of media appeal is a telling analysis of the problem by the BBC.

Radi-Aid plan to use the success of their critique to host a major debate in Oslo on 4th December, at which they will challenge aid agencies about their use of the media.

“Of course aid agencies must raise money,” says Anja Bakken Riise, “but can we excuse them for using these images?”

Getting the debate going

The organisers of Radi-aid hope this will be the start of a discussion looking at their key concerns:

  1. Fundraising should not be based on exploiting stereotypes.
    Most of us just get tired if all we see is sad pictures of what is happening in the world, instead of real changes.
  2. We want better information about what is going on in the world, in schools, in TV and media.
    We want to see more nuances. We want to know about positive developments in Africa and developing countries, not only about crises, poverty and AIDS. We need more attention on how western countries have a negative impact on developing countries.
  3. Media: Show respect.
    Media should become more ethical in their reporting. Would you print a photo of a starving white baby without permission? The same rules must apply when journalists are covering the rest of the world as it does when they are in their home country.
  4. Aid must be based on real needs, not “good” intentions.
    Aid is just one part of a bigger picture; we must have cooperation and investments, and change other structures that hold back development in poorer countries. Aid is not the only answer.