Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Pity Industry

Andy Storey a development studies lecturer at University College Dublin describes himself as "very critical" of Bono, the U2 singer . "His embrace of the powerful neuters what he can say. He is calling for increased aid but, at the same time, he is bolstering and legitimising the very people who are helping to maintain the huge disparity between rich and poor.He is a useful idiot for world leaders who like to look cool when photographed alongside him. And there's something utterly unseemly about Bono's obsequiousness with them."

In her book, Dead Aid, Zambian writer Dambiso Moyo is particularly scathing about Bono's contribution. She objects to how celebrities such as Bono have "inadvertently or manipulatively become the spokespeople for the African continent" and noted in an interview with The New York Times that on the only occasion in which she met Bono, at a party to raise money for Africans, she was the only African there. Moyo's central thesis is that Western aid has made Africa's poor even poorer. She argues that the West's "pity industry" has not only facilitated corruption among the dictators given access to vast sums of unaccountable cash, but aid has also stifled investment and free enterprise. Aid has come to provide 75% of the revenue of some African governments and this has distorted the local economy.

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