Life in a Refugee Camp: The African Dream?

I know I’m late on this, as it’s been circulating around for a while. From Project Mania, photographer Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio wrote a book after “inviting [themselves] to dinner with 30 different families…taking note of every vegetable peeled, every beverage poured, every package opened” for their book, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats as stated on the NPR website. The purpose of this project was “to see how globalization, migration and rising affluence are affecting the diets of communities around the globe.” (Emphasis mine)

Yet for their representation of families around the globe (at least the pictures being made public from the book) middle class families were chosen from Europe and America, Asia, Central and South America, Mid-East, and for sub-Saharan Africa they chose to shadow a family living in a refugee camp in Chad.

africans in a refugee camp

Seriously? Yeah, that’s real affluent there people. An African family hasn’t made it until they’ve lived in a refugee camp. Because that’s the ultimate aspirations for most African families after all, aren’t they always dying and or starving? At least in a refugee camp, they have water!

These insidious cries and outreach campaigns to “help save Africa” and similar portrayals of Africans such as the one in this book are getting out of control. What year are we in? Even though this book probably isn’t trying to elicit help to save Africa, I’m still guessing that the pictures chosen to represent the sub-Saharan Africans are meant to invoke pity, and perhaps inspire emotionally detached and complacent consumer oriented societies into providing aid. Unless…they really do believe that it’s the African dream to receive food from a refugee camp. Or they want the world to continue to believe that Africa is really one huge refugee camp as previously thought. Anyway, I’m just guessing here, so either of those guesses could be wrong. I mean how do you explain the stark difference between this African family, and the rest of the families featured in the photo project?

I’m just so tired of the constant parochial representation of Africans in the media where they are almost always starving, dying, or killing each other/escaping those trying to kill them. What is so difficult for western media that disables them from being able to perceive the diversity that exists all over Africa? Why must Africans be constantly stereotyped and marginalized to the helpless dying victims (sometimes the barbaric murderers)? This may be hard to believe, but not ALL Africans are dying, starving, or killing each other. And NEWS FLASH: Africans don’t hold a monopoly on starving/dying people. And yeah, IT’S RACIST!

Since the aim of the book is not to show disparities in income and diet, but to show a relationship between diet and AFFLUENCE, migration and globalization, they could have at least chosen families from the same socio-economic class. Obviously there are going to be disparities, but it’s much fairer than what they came up with, which will have already ignorant people on African matters thinking that Sub-Saharan Africa REALLY is one huge refugee camp. NOT.

Also, if they wanted to show poor people, why did they have to use the sub-Saharan Africans as the example? Narrow minded I tell ya. Try using a poor non-Black family, possibly European or North American as the example. We all know how Black people around the globe have a tendency to underachieve and how much they have a predilection for being the under class right? Get outta here!

Below are select pictures of other families featured in the book, and how much they spend on groceries in a week. By the way, the Sudanese family spends $1.23 on groceries per week.

Also, honorable mention goes to Ecuador for unfair representation and victimization from racist Western media.

For more pictures check out the Time Magazine photo essay of this project.

UPDATE: Part 2 of the essay project featuring another African family which is apparently not in a refugee camp, but still can’t afford a kitchen and a table like the rest of the families featured. Yeah, way to diversify people.<sarcasm>

Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide = Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

wtwe - germany

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina = Food expenditure for one week $341.98

wtwe - usa

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily = Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

wtwe - cicily

Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca = Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

wtwe - mexico

Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna = Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

wtwe - poland

Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo = Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

wtwe - egypt

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo = Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

wtwe - ecuador

Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village = Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

wtwe - bhutan

6 Responses

  1. […] Life in a Refugee Camp: The African Dream? I know Im late on this, as its been circulating around for a while. From Project Mania, photographer Peter Menzel and writer Faith DAluisio wrote a book after inviting [themselves] to dinner with 30 different familiestaking note of every vegetable peeled, every beverage poured, every package opened for their book, Hungry Planet: […]

  2. […] Life in a Refugee Camp: The African Dream? I know Im late on this, as its been circulating around for a while. From Project Mania, photographer Peter Menzel and writer Faith DAluisio wrote a book after inviting [themselves] to dinner with 30 different familiestaking note of every vegetable peeled, every beverage poured, every package opened for their book, Hungry Planet: […]

  3. i enjoyed this post. Thank you🙂

  4. a good impression of how people are living

  5. omg, ridiculous. Great post, though, I’m totally with you. You should read these, you’d enjoy them:

    “How to Write About Africa”
    (http://www.granta.com/Magazine/92/How-to-Write-about-Africa/Page-1)
    “Stop Trying to ‘Save’ Africa”

    (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/13/AR2007071301714.html)

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