In Ghana there is a saying: “the same boat that brought Christianity is also the same boat that brought the guns”. I cannot remember the exact phrasing, so I paraphrase a little; it was told to me many years ago by a collegue.
This phrase came to mind while reading Chris Blattman’s blog on the new film Machine Gun Preacher. The story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing biker tough guy who found God and became a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children who’ve been forced to become soldiers. The narrative is familiar, and one that irks so many. Framing of global poverty as a tool to keep funds replenished is probably something that should change and — for lack of a better word — be modernised.
As Blattman puts it: “The aid bloggers have been derisive and angry, for pretty good reason. If the “it takes a white man to save Africa” narrative doesn’t piss you off, the narcissistic model of armed humanitarianism just might.”
Blattman continues with some shocking stats on the matter: “Basically, if you were an adolescent boy living in the war region, there was a 2 in 5 chance that a rebel would snatch you in the middle of the night, and probably kill a family member in the process. Assuming he didn’t make you do it yourself. If you were a girl, especially one under 13, your chances were 1 in 5 of getting carted off where you would promptly become the fourth wife of some killer commander leading some a miserable mobile unit through the bush.”