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Is any publicity about the plight of Africa good publicity? And just what good do celebrities do for its cause?

 Here is William Easterly in the LA Times:

It’s a dark and scary picture of a helpless, backward continent that’s being offered up to TV watchers and coffee drinkers. But in fact, the real Africa is quite a bit different. And the problem with all this Western stereotyping is that it manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of some current victories, fueling support for patronizing Western policies designed to rescue the allegedly helpless African people while often discouraging those policies that might actually help.

… The reality is that many more Africans need latrines than need Western peacekeepers — but that doesn’t play so well on TV

… Growth of living standards in the last five years is the highest in Africa’s history.

Why is this (and more) being ignored? It can’t possibly be because the aid agencies want more money? Or because it is another convenient excuse to intervene into the private lives of both Westerners and Africans? Or because the celebrities need to find a “hook” in an era of increasing competition for consumers’ attention?  No, it must be because Africa is headed to hell in a handbasket unless the UN saves it.

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