This is what’s wrong with Voluntourism

5 Min Read

A video by volunteers at Luket Ministries has caused a stir amongst Ugandans  and friends of Uganda, although the video has been taken down, the conversation has continued amongst Ugandans

.Luket Ministries, an Oklahoma missionary group working in Jinja, Uganda, produced an insensitive music video. Creative Director Natasha Perryman wrote the lyrics and is featured in the video eating sukumawiki (collard greens)

Here are some of the conversations that caught our eyes

Arao Ameny, the Ugandan founder of the Association of African Journalists and Writers,  had this to say about why she found the video offensive and brought it to the attention of others

  • I want Ugandans and Africans to see what we are allowing and what we are accepting to happen in our own country, in our continent. Why are our communities allowing organizations like this to exist and thrive? Why are we allowing our children to take part in music videos that belittle their identities?

  • I want future bright-eyed white Americans (which I find it strange don’t want to volunteer in Harlem or Detroit or Oakland or Tulsa here in America with black children and black communities who deserve just as much help and attention as the children in Jinja or Kampala or Lira but want to buy a 2,000 ticket to fly thousands of miles to Uganda to take pictures next to smiling black babies) to ask themselves and really think, THINK HARD, about why you are there and who are there for? Are you really there to support Ugandans on the ground or you there for yourself—for your ego, your resume, your latest Facebook profile photo or latest Instagram post taken with a beautiful Ugandan child hoisted on your back? *Who* are you there for really?

  • In short, Luket Ministries needs to issue a proper apology to Ugandans everywhere. An entire country, its diverse cultures, its daily struggles of Ugandans, its food, its diverse cultural attire, is NOT for you to mock. We are not here for your entertainment. Ugandans and Africans in general, deserve and should be treated with dignity. You cannot effectively serve people while offending the same people you claim to care for.

TMS Ruge founder of Jadedaid  gave the girls’ video the Jadedaid treatment

Educated Angry African Responds to Luket “Dancing” Missionaries from TMS Ruge on Vimeo.

In explaining his version of the video, TMS had this to say

This is what’s wrong with Voluntourism.. as this video shows, isn’t about the problems one’s volunteering to end. It’s often about the volunteers, the ones ‘carefully curating their social media presence to look cool. Pretend Mother Theresas smuggling ‘The smug sense of self-satisfaction’ that they alone can solve the intractable problems of far-off people in foreign lands while their neighbours are starving and incarcerated.This is what’s wrong with Voluntourism … unchecked white guilt funding orphanage tourism that ends up as Helpies – selfies to brag about helping on Humanitarians of Tinder.

It’s hypocrisy.

“We sold everything to do this” doesn’t give you license to be tone deaf.And no, God didn’t send you the club anthem for ‘Skype sex with a bad internet connection’ with ‘your well-hung Senegalese boyfriend’ – a literal sound track to ‘Emergency Sex’ you engage in while ‘Sleeping with your supervisor’ – so you can try a viral video mocking local culture in His name.

Here’s what I hope for: that the Voluntourism industry comes to terms with the fact that its intervention is the problem.That after all your efforts, you realize that you are the problem. Not the solution.

Because the sudden realizatdion that your theory of change is a crock shit, is actually, is the next development panacea.

We deserve better than this. All of us.

Not everyone has agreed with these objections and for a varied response to the video, head over to The Guardian and read the responses to Ida’s open letter to the video.

After you have done that, please share your own views below

Share This Article