Africa for Norway is a new viral video from an organization calling itself “Radi-Aid” whose supposed goal is to get Africans to help frost-bitten Norwegians by donating heating radiators. According to NPR, the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH) goal with the Africa for Norway Radi-Aid video is to “challenge the stereotypical image of Africa as a continent riddled with conflict, disease, corruption, poverty, and brutal dictatorships needing rescue from developed nations.”
SAIH was founded in 1961, and originally focused on supporting the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Now they’re using humor and the power of the viral video to get their message out. Africa for Norway turns the tables on the stereotypical view of starving Africa by presenting a fictional Christmas appeal video that portrays Norway as a bitterly cold country full of freezing people in need.
The idea is that since there won’t be snow in much of Africa the Norwegians could use the help of the good people of sunny Africa. Radi-Aid tells people to donate radiators—thus the name—to poor Norwegians supposedly dying from frostbite.
The humor embeds a serious message: the stereotypical images of helpless Africans are just as inaccurate as the idea of helpless freezing Norwegians. A lot of Africans cannot relate to the patronizing videos and development initiatives.
The SAIH organization says it has certain goals with the video. Among them, they desire that fundraising “should not be based on exploiting stereotypes” and that media should have more respect in portraying suffering children.
“We want to see more nuances,” Radi-Aid writes on its website. “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.”
The Guardian sat down with the makers of the Africa for Norway viral video and the first question asked was what was their inspiration for Radi-Aid. They answered:
“SAIH has strived to promote a more nuanced image on countries in the global south than is usually portrayed in the media and by some charitable organisations and fundraising initiatives. While there are negative issues that need to be reported and a lot of organisations are doing very important work, we are frustrated at the constant repetition of the same negative images. Since the narrative tends to be the same as it was when development assistance first started some 50 years ago, it might give the impression that none of these efforts have produced any results and thus lead to apathy.”
We also want to mess with the stereotypes people have. The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, it’s that they’re incomplete. Norway is, in fact, a relatively cold country. But I think most Norwegians would be rather frustrated if that was the only thing Norway was known for. I think a lot of people would agree that the same goes for most African countries.”
Go to The Guardian to read the rest of the interview, but in the meantime enjoy the Africa for Norway viral video presented by Radi-Aid.