Rowan Class Assembly: Africa Misconceptions

Warm greetings to our friends in Kafuro and all over the world. Yesterday, Rowan Class used their assembly to share their thoughts about misconceptions of Africa. The assembly text and PowerPoint are available below.

Download (PPTX, 19.45MB)

Good morning and welcome to the Rowan Class assembly

This time last year, Rowan Class led an assembly about Uganda. This year our theme is broadly the same, we will cover Uganda, but we also want to address some misconceptions about Africa.

Many people automatically jump to the conclusion that Africans must not be happy because they are not rich. The pictures we see on television often shows us people struggling against poverty who seem dependent on Western aid.

We would like to show you two sets of pictures and ask you at the end which set shows poverty and which shows wealth…..( photos shown as per lesson in previous blog post)

Set A showed poverty. All of these photos were taken in the UK.

Set B showed wealth and affluence. All of these photos were taken in Uganda.

It is the role of the media to show a more balanced view of Africa and much of the time they do not do this. There are obviously some people who do need our help, but sometimes it is presented in such a way that it is patronising and makes it seem as if Africa can do nothing for itself.

A film that the pop star Ed Sheeran made for Comic Relief last year won an award for all the wrong reasons. The Radi-Aid award was given after the film during which the singer offers to pay hotel costs for street children in Liberia, verged on “poverty tourism”, according to the jury. The jury also said,

“We have been presented with these kind of images since the 1980s. They are horrible to watch. People are so used to them that for many they reinforce that feeling of hopelessness and apathy – and even a negative view of development in that nothing is going in the right direction.”

Critics argue that by portraying Africa like this, they are guilty of promoting well-meaning celebrities as saviour figures. We would argue that by focusing on empowering Africans rather than just throwing money at a problem is a far better solution.

Even some of the most well-meaning and successful charities have got it wrong. One of the most famous songs of the last 40 years is Band Aid with Feed the World. But the lyrics are condescending to many Africans. And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas is wrong. It snows in South Africa, Lesotho most years and there is snow at high altitude in Morocco, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Also, the line Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? is terribly inaccurate as can be interpreted as suggesting that Africans don’t know what Christmas is. 380 Million African Christians would argue that they know exactly what Christmas is particularly as most of them are extremely religious.

So how does that affect Liss Junior School? Some people might say that as we raise money for Kafuro we are part of the problem. We think the answer is a definite ‘no’ for the following reasons:

A: We don’t consider ourselves a charity. Whenever we raise money for Kafuro it has been because we expect something in return. In most cases this is sharing learning through the Kafuro Liss blog. This enables us to recognise our similarities and our differences and celebrate them both.

B: We also get letters from Kafuro pupils on an annual basis. This causes a great deal of excitement in both schools as it is an opportunity for direct contact with a friend.

C: We have been blessed by visits from three Ugandan teachers over the past six years as well as numerous visits from visiting rangers. This has allowed us to learn from them and enabled our pupils to have an insight into another country that other schools do not have.

D: Because of our exchange of learning with Kafuro, their exam results have been some of the best in their district. The electricity they have at the school through the solar panels we bought for them allows the children to study late and also to learn how to be barbers.

We also swap data with our weather stations that we can use for the teaching of geography.

One of their pupils, Gloria, was so good at cooking with the cob oven we provided the money for them to build, that she went and cooked at a restaurant for a day and showed them how to make pizza.

So if the media aren’t reporting all the good things that are happening in Africa, what are we missing out on? Here’s some amazing things happening:

There is a global race for commercial drone deliveries of small packages, which have been restricted in the US and Europe because of aviation rules. In comparison, some parts of Africa, such as Rwanda, are welcoming drones. The combination of rural roads and vast amounts of land which is not on a flight path make parts of Africa perfect for developing delivery drones.

 The logistics company Zipline runs drones which can deliver small packages like blood, vaccines and anti-venom. Zipline opened in Rwanda in 2016 and is expanding into Tanzania this year.

Many people across Africa don’t have bank accounts. Mobile money – sending money via your phone – has already proved a very successful alternative to cash. Africa has become the global leader in mobile money with more than 100 million people having mobile money accounts in 2016, according to research. Mobile financial services now include credit, insurance, and international money exchanges.

The Great Green Wall is an African-led project with an epic ambition: to grow an 8,000km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of Africa. Its goal is to provide food, jobs and a future for the millions of people who live in a region on the frontline of climate change.

Once completed, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on Earth and a new Wonder of the World.The Great Green Wall is taking root at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert – one of the poorest places on the planet.

More than anywhere else on Earth, the Sahara Desert is on the frontline of climate change and millions of locals are already facing its devastating impact. Persistent droughts, lack of food, conflicts over fewer natural resources, and mass migration to Europe are some of the many consequences.

Yet, local people are fighting back.  Since the birth of the initiative in 2007, life has started coming back to the land, bringing greater food security, jobs and stability to people’s lives.

The Great Green Wall isn’t just for the Sahara. It is global symbol for humanity overcoming its biggest threat – our changing environment. It shows that if we can work with nature, even in challenging places like in the Sahara, we can overcome adversity, and build a better world for generations to come.

Remember how excited you were for your first school bag? For many it’s a powerful symbol of growing up and gaining responsibility – something that we look back on fondly. But for others it’s much more than that.

Repurpose Schoolbags is simple and brilliantly effective. They are solar-powered backpacks made from recycled shopping plastic bags. While a child walks to school, the solar panel charges and then doubles up as a light for the child to study at night.

Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it can be directly lifesaving. The use of kerosene lamps by those who don’t have electricity can be deadly, and given that some 11.4 million learners walk to school daily, then it’s an ideal means for providing the ability for children to study without any unnecessary risk.

We hope that you now understand why Africa is an amazing continent – one that we should admire.

Thank you for listening to  our assembly.



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