8/12/06

Africa: just a hot "hollywood" trend ?

It seems that every time we turn, a celebrity traveled to Africa to raise awareness about the plight of the continent. Let's review where the latest celebrities traveled to:
Angelina Jolie-Pitt in Namibia.
Alyssa Milano in Angola.
Ashley Judd in Madagascar.
Bono in Tanzania.
Clay Aiken in Uganda. (!)
Charlize Theron in Botswana.
Chris Martin-Gwyneth Palthrow in Ghana.
Don Cheadle in Rwanda.
George Clooney in Sudan.
Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles in S. Africa.
Jessica Simpson and Lindsay Lohan in Kenya (to come ?).
Lucy Liu in lesotho.
Madonna in malawi (to come).
Matt Damon in Zambia.
Melinda and Bill Gates in Senegal.
Natalia Imbruglia in Ethiopia. (and much more...)
OK, you get the point: Africa is the new Bahamas. It's getting increasingly difficult to name an african country that has not been visited by a celebrity. Quite a change from 10 years ago, I would say. Of course, there are plenty of critics for this sudden intetrest in the plight of Africa from the hollywood folks ( for example: PR (Public Relation) moves, guilt from having too much, ineffectivenessof the aid, no follow-up...) and the danger that the interest might be fading when the lights go down.
So will it last and why Africa ? Here are a few interesting points by an article in the new York Times about the rising interest in the US in helping Africa.
"We had this sudden awareness that there were all these people out there who hated us, and we needed people who, as far as we know, don’t hate us, and are in great need and we can help,” Professor Easterly said. “It’s the perfect meeting of needs — an intersection where we need Africa and Africa needs us.” [...]
"To build a hospital, the tangible evidence of where your money is going is very satisfying,’’ said Susan Konig, an organizer of the event. She added, “It was not some amorphous thing, but a tangible cinderblock building where in Tanzania people can get their eyes checked, receive AIDS medication, they can get pregnancy care.’’ [...]“They want,” Dr. Ellis said, to “have a sense of ‘we’ve left something, we’ve done something.’
Africa is one way celebrities can transform an unprecedented level of scrutiny into their lives into something productive.And for many, at a time when the United States is divided into red and blue, for and against, cease-fire and bombs away, the seemingly unambiguous nature of Africa’s needs can be unifying.
Final words by Mia Farrow: "there are certain inactions that are inexcusable. You’ve got to stand with what you believe in. I just wish I could be more famous, or more powerful, so that my voice would carry further when I speak about Darfur.”
It will be interesting to folow how it will all play out. I think it will last longer than the article predicts:"“Just like a trendy restaurant lasts 18 month, so will interest in Africa.”But the slow pace of concrete change and sometimes helplessness will eventually defeat most donators.

9 comments:

  1. You forgot to mention Mariah Carey and her tour in Tunisia !! I think it 's a great idea not just to do humanitarian things but also to consider Africa as a real audience (and real fans).
    Of course it's not always about money, you can think about the historical Mohamed Ali's match in Congo. And wath about the Marley's trip to Ethiopia?
    I agree it's generally about the roots but it also gives Africa another face. The proud one...

    Bzzzz Lova

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  2. Hi Lova,

    I think that they have chosen these countries of Africa because Paparazzis are less present than anywhere else.

    Anyway, it's nice and very important to hear about Africas without usual words that medias use and abuse such as civil war, famine death, election fraud ....

    C U my cousin, I become addicted of your blog !!! well done (TLM lol)

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  3. You forgot to mention Vola Ralambo in Madagascar uhuhuhuh, just kidding my dear :)

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  4. >Jogany, you're right, Mariah was a huge success in Tunis. I just ran out of steam at the end but I seem to have forgotten Northern and West Africa. If Africa becomes a viable marketing partner as opposed to a charity strip, it's all for the better.
    > Sandy: addiction is all relative, my cousin ;). Less paparazzi and less hunger for celebrities since there are more urgent things to do, I guess. Sandy, I would love to see some of your pictures, can some be available to the gen. public :) ?
    >Vola, the publicist for Ms Ralambo did not allow me to mention her secret trip because she wanted to be able to return to the beautiful island as often as she wants w/o the paparazzi :).

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  5. I'm glad you caught onto this or I never would have noticed. I hope it lasts longer, but it seems like everything in Hollywood is a fad.

    Side note: My sister has lived there for 9 or 10 years and decided to come home but I think she absorbed a lot and will always have some Africa in her.

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  6. >Mannmotion: I am afraid you are right, it will fade away. However, if this trend can provide a spark for the aid to be sustained by more grounded ones, then it would have done the job. The best case scenario would be for Africa to be able to stand on tis own before the trend fades.

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  7. Have you ever noticed that some people are made to love Africa, I mean the spirit and way of life, and others will never be or hardly? Perhaps are they too sophisticated or superficial... Or just perhaps such as I couldn't explain you why I'll never be attracted by Russia for example: that's the way it is.
    What I (want to) mean is that some people like "stars" may visit Africa because they really care for this continent, and some just to be heard, read in people magazines, blogs ;), and so.
    Comme dans bcp de domaines et sujets, on distingue les convaincus,engagés,passionnés, naturels, et puis ceux qui dégagent le goût fade du "par attitude"..

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  8. going through my "non-exhaustive" list, I think it was about 50/50 in the "people" who genuinely cared and the "poseur". Time will select accordingly. As an example of people who care deeply for the continent, I will give Cecile et Arnault who are crossing the continent by bike. They went to Madagascar as well and from personal experience, they are the kind of people that will "stick around" for a while.
    http://www.dakarzanzibar.com/

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