white saviorThe Rhesus Monkey once said, “my eyes are my oracles”. Of course we all know monkeys cannot talk so what exactly does this mean? Well, that is an African proverb and it simply means, “I only believe the things I see”.  In other words, “seeing is believing”. The question then is; what about the things we do not see? Do we ignore all the things we do not see? Also, do we believe all the things we see?

I give the Rhesus Monkey some credit why because at times it pays to be a “Doubting Thomas”. On the other hand however, we live in a world of illusions and there are several things we think we see that do not exist in reality. Also, there are several things that exist in reality that we do not see. There are several things we think we know that we do not know.  Our eyes with the help of our brains trick us all the time into seeing and believing things that do not exist at all. Think about God and think about even the air we breathe. Can we see the colorless and odorless air we breathe? Can we see God with our own eyes? Yet we do believe there is a God up there and we do believe there is something around us called air that keeps us alive although we cannot see with our naked eyes.

I personally think the media takes us all for “Rhesus Monkeys” and program us to believe the things they want us to believe by showing us things they want us to see. Since most of us believe most of the things we see on TV, the internet, etc., we are easily taken for granted just like the Rhesus Monkey which probably believes in all the things it sees. Some ordinary people have also taken advantage of this our weakness and try to play with our emotions.

The issue of “white savior complex” is something I’ve been willing to write about for a long time. I don’t even know where to start from but the “white savior complex” I am talking about is the basic idea that people of color are incapable of taken care of themselves and that the white man has to rush in and save them. The basic idea that white folks are the benevolent benefactors of the helpless people of color. This perception arose from the European interaction with native tribes and communities around the world during the European conquest.  The Europeans saw native tribes and communities as “savages” and there was often this drive to Christianize, modernize and “save” them from themselves. That perception continued and that has created the “white savior” mentality I am talking about.

Please don’t get me wrong. There are so many white folks who continue to do genuine volunteering work in Africa and around the world. Some of these great people don’t even want their pictures online and we thank them for their love and kindness.  However, there is another group of “volunteers” who just come to Africa because they want to be seen as “saviors”. They come as “messiahs” with the power to solve all our problems without even consulting the locals first to see what our problems are. They come to Africa to do volunteering work so the world will know the “white savior” came to save once again. They come to Africa equipped with great HD video recorders and cameras to record their every move and then post online for the world to see how great they are. The bad implication here is that, it also projects the image of people incapable of saving themselves. Africa has suffered a lot and continues to suffer from such negative images. I am not saying nobody should come do volunteering work in Africa. All I am trying to say is that, please leave that “white savior” mentality behind because we are sick and tired of that.

Not just volunteers. Even the main stream media often focus on stories that paint white folks “saviors” while at the same time painting people of color “helpless” and “incapable”. Just like the Rhesus Monkey, some of us believe almost all the things we see and so at the end of the day, those negative images stick to our brains creating the perception that people of color are incapable and that the white savior is always around to save us from our pains and sorrows.