‘It is obvious that people here are poor. It is less obvious that someone made them that way.’

So I made a video with some thoughts I had during my recent work-trip to Uganda.

I have a knot in my stomach putting this kind of shit online. Another white guy, in another African country, broadcasting another set of un-earned conclusions. The whole point I’m trying to make in the video is that I have no idea what I’m talking about, but maybe that means I should have just not talked at all.

Anyway, now it’s out there, embarrassing but irrevocable, just like the rest of the internet. Next time, I’ll try making one of these I don’t feel the need to apologize for.

58 Comments

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58 responses to “‘It is obvious that people here are poor. It is less obvious that someone made them that way.’

  1. bethgaede

    This past week I edited a book chapter about short-term mission trips, and in order to help the author, I had to think through my own principles for conducting and evaluating such trips. At the top of my list: practice humility. I think your “I have no idea what I’m talking about” is exactly right and one reason I’m glad you made and posted this video. You know a lot about NGOs and poverty, you’re right there in Uganda, and you don’t claim any expertise about the situation. You’re a good model for all of us!

  2. This was a really thoughtful video, and I liked that slowed down technique. The images really speak for themselves and leave room for interpretation. The enduring image in my head of Uganda has always been what I saw in a documentary years ago.. of the “nightwalker” children who walk for hours in the dark to escape attack from the rebels. Looking at the video, of people going about their days, that reality seemed so far away.

  3. Nice piece of work. Great video of life and some appropriately positioned, thought provoking comment, without trying to come up with smart conclusions for a difficult problems. Keep sharing!

  4. The distinction between societal inequities and personal responsibility seems difficult for many to appreciate. Many would rather stand in judgement of others as a defense mechanism rather than accept some semblance of culpability in the injustices that presently exist.

  5. You break my heart and I applaud you for it.

  6. Κόκκινος νίντζα

    Reading your post, I can tell that you do know some things about Uganda. Only Jon Snow knows nothing.

  7. samitakaur1974

    Sad…

  8. Gosh. Really makes one think about privilege, honesty, workers’ rights, etc, in a new way. 2 dollars a month. That is outrageous

  9. samitakaur1974

    Reblogged this on myideasaremine.

  10. This is an amazing post. I applaud this form of journalism. People need to be aware of how corrupt some system’s are. Any idea’s on how to help?

  11. Reblogged this on BrokeMammaBlog and commented:
    This is an incredible piece. It show’s just how corrupt a political system can be. These people have been treated so poorly, it makes my stomach turn.

  12. Comparto…”i have no idea what i’m talking about ” ,very good,Thanks. The view it is so familiar to me,i’m in Equador,youu can come. Good luck !

  13. Reblogged this on monicgye and commented:
    Africa Mía- muy parecido a vistas de ecuador y posiblemente de sudamerica.

  14. Reblogged this on nancyschottmensh and commented:
    Human Rights!

  15. jhorel freeborn

    Reblogged this on Jhorel's Blog.

  16. uju

    When you say you don’t know what you’re talking about, I have to ask what you mean by that. You have made an apt observation of life in Uganda– and in many African countries I might add– and from what I got this has been a learning process for you.

    Here’s what I got out of it:

    Looking is not seeing.

    It’s obvious that the people are poor, what is less obvious is that someone made them this way.

    Thank you 🙂

  17. This is very true, but what can be done to change the situation? That’s the critical question which needs to be addressed

  18. Yes it’s horrible that less fortunate people are stuck in that spot particularly by a corrupted country but mostly by human nature that is one of the hardest things to nurture that thought process that allows use to jump over the hurdles the we have placed on our selves we all have the power to do it but it’s all about having the knowledge about ones self to see it through

  19. Love In the Garden of Beasts. I think it is a great testament to America turning a blind eye. Even when he saw what was around him, no one would listen or act. Money talks. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Black, White or Yellow.

  20. I don’t think you should be sorry at all – it’s not a journalist’s job to know everything, it’s to ask questions and highlight an issue. This video is great and thought provoking

  21. polteqblog

    Reblogged this on Robert's blog and commented:
    Hduhehjc

  22. One of the disheartening facts about Panamá is the disparity gap of haves and have nots. Funny thing is though, that even those that get a hand up out of poverty refuse to help those still in it. We are told pretty routinely to not give too much or we’ll wreck it. All the while the poor will give you all they have in their need, and ask nothing in return. Truly beautiful people here in rural Panamá. I love this place, but the behind the scenes politicos keep people poor on purpose.

  23. Juliet Qoey

    In a nutshell, poverty in Africa is a ‘tool for those in power. They need to keep the status quo because poor people hardly care about their rights. Keeping to one’s daily hustle seems much more ‘logical’ than rattling the snakes that make their hustle increasingly difficult. You don’t have to live in Africa or be African to “earn” the right to speak about what you see/observe about it. As long as you’re well informed. I wonder what the Ugandan suburbs are like… that is the other end of the inequality spectrum, after all…

  24. Wow this was so powerful! How can we help them?

  25. Cool video of life it was a really thoughtful video

  26. Reblogged this on Crimson Awakenings and commented:
    This is a must see video . An awesome piece of work . Thank you .

  27. Reblogged this on inside juanitasplace and commented:
    I disagree with him on just one point. It is not always true that someone else made them that way.

  28. Amazing video, so I had to copy the link from YouTube and put it on my Facebook account. THIS is a video that deserves to go viral!

  29. I am continuously learning, thank you for this post it hurts my heart but at the same time teaches me to appreciate how privileged I am. This world is very corrupted.

  30. Great video and get the level of despair across without the emotion. The worst thing is that alot of it’s avoidable but the corruption is built into the infrastructure of the country and flows through the veins of those in authority.

  31. Your honesty is the best thing about this!

  32. Reblogged this on She Discovered Life and commented:
    Made me think. Great writing.

  33. I do not think you have anything to apologize for. When you can put a spotlight on things that need to be known abroad, you doing great service of raising awareness.
    Author, Catherine Lyon 🙂

  34. badcrisp

    I face the same conflicts when deciding upon whether I write at all. We come from a place of privilege, but as long as we remember, our thoughts needn’t go unwritten.

  35. I think one would have to live in Africa to truly understand things better. Not just visit or spend a few months on a mission but really live here.

  36. pegasus11

    Reblogged this on AAA and commented:
    Now this is different.

  37. How do you become a international air worker?

  38. James Scott

    I have recently come back from doing some charity work in Ghana, this video makes me think about what I saw and to what level I understood it, I know people are poor were I went but don’t understand why.

  39. James Scott

    Reblogged this on Globe Trotting and commented:
    This video really made me think about my charity work in Ghana last week and the people I met.

  40. Love the video technique!

  41. I don’t understand why you say you’re embarrassed. Your video is a great piece of unique art. Additionally, it is thought provoking.

  42. Pingback: ‘It is obvious that people here are poor. It is less obvious that someone made them that way.’ | xoliswajingxi

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