Volunteering in Africa
Richard worked for the Times until 1986 when he became Africa Editor of the Independent and in 1995 took the post of Africa Editor at The Economist. He also made three television documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4 on Africa.
Question: What advice do you have for volunteers going to Africa?
Richard Dowden: If you want to go to Africa, go and learn and live with the people there. Don’t go on a gap here or something like that, go for sometime. Try and learn the language, try and live with people, and you will get a lot out of it. Africa may or may not get something about it.
Don’t go with the idea of I’m going to do things to Africa. I’m going to develop it, change it. That is the attitude that has set Africa back in the past.
Only Africans can develop Africa. Outsiders cannot do it. They can help. And if you come with that thing, like, how do I help, what you want me to do, but you have to do the main development agenda yourselves, then I think that’s fine.
Recorded: March 16, 2009
The journalist advises not going to Africa with the idea of being a crusader.
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