Rapper 50 Cent joins battle against Somali hunger
The multimillionaire rap star 50 Cent took a tour of a displacement camp inside Somalia to raise awareness on hunger. Does it help when celebrities do good?
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This was also when the desire to save Africans became the dominant story told by American travelers. While a very real tragedy for too many people and families around the world, the AIDS story was also a perfect “African story.” It increasingly brought up all the old lemons about Africa: tradition versus modernity; patriarchy and hyper-masculinity; tribalism; over-sexualized black bodies; government failures and incompetence; etcetera. It was all too seldom a story about global inequalities, or the structural causes of poverty that contribute so much to HIV infection rates in Africa, and hardly ever about local health care providers, family and community support systems, and the flawed but willing health services all over the continent. Africans could not escape HIV/AIDS and nor could the Americans who cared about Africa. Suddenly there were no conversations about new democracies in Africa, or investment opportunities; the potential consumers were represented as too sick to labor, let alone to shop. This became the burden of caring Americans whose consumption practices can give a sick child in Africa ARVs or provide mosquito nets against the ravages of malaria.Skip to next paragraph
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For the news media, these are very valid criticisms. Are we being led by the nose, and by our desire for increased readership and viewership, to cover the stories that Mr. Clooney, Ms. Jolie, and Mr. Cent – and their backers – want us to cover?
By giving so much attention to their issues, heightening awareness about war, conflict, drought, and disease, are we diminishing the importance of other trends in Africa – the emergence of new democracies, the growing economic strength of resource-rich nations, the blossoming of technology?
By focusing on foreign celebrities, do we in the news media end up diminishing also the efforts of ordinary aid workers and activists who work on issues of hunger and conflict year-round? I would welcome a discussion on this issue on Twitter, by the way.
As for the rap star 50 Cent, his entry into the humanitarian field is not entirely new. It has its roots in a concert tour of Africa that the rap star took last year.
“I grew up without money but I didn’t grow up hungry. A lot of people out there are hungry right now – no, actually dying of hunger. It’s our responsibility to come together and do things to create a solution for this problem.”
That first African trip gave him the impetus to use his fame as a platform to make a difference.
“What I’ve seen from this actual run, when I was out in Africa was unbelievable, the devastation and desperation of people who don’t know when they’ll receive their next meal, or if they’re going to receive their next meal,” he said. “I want to feed a billion kids and I need your help to do it. I need you to utilize your energy, your voice, to provide additional motivation for me at times. My new project is called SK, Street King and y’all know the plan. I just told y’all the plan. I want to feed a billion kids.”
Follow Scott Baldauf on Twitter.
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