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Comic Relief will stop sending stars to Africa

This news post is over 1 year old

The charity has been accused of portraying celebrities as 'white saviours' when visiting the continent

Comic Relief has said it will stop sending celebrities to Africa.

The charity has been criticised in recent years for portraying stars as ‘white saviours’ when they are filmed on trips for the annual fundraiser.

Instead, its fundraising appeals will be made by local film-makers with a "more authentic perspective".

Sir Lenny Henry, who co-founded Comic Relief in 1985, welcomed the move.

"A lot has changed over Comic Relief's 35 years, and so the way we raise money and talk about the issues we are here to tackle, and the people we are here to support, must change as well," he said.

"African people don't want us to tell their stories for them. What they need is more agency, a platform and partnership."

As part of the new approach, Comic Relief will preview three videos by film-makers from across the African continent later today (Wednesday 28 October).

The films will explore issues including mental health, climate change and forced marriages.

The move comes after a backlash against the charity's tactic of sending British stars to poor African villages and filming their reactions.

Celebrities who have been filmed visiting Africa in recent years include TV presenter Stacey Dooley and singer Ed Sheeran.

Ruth Davison, chief executive of Comic Relief, said: “Over the last 30 years, our international appeals have helped us raise over £1.4bn and we are immensely grateful. We know times are changing rapidly now and we need to modernise our approaches internationally to give local communities the opportunity to lead their stories. We’ve listened to communities, our peers, critics and supporters and I’m proud to be leading the charity at this exciting time as we develop our approaches and shift the power. I hope audiences will see that by investing in wider creative partnership across Africa our films will be more authentic and engaging than ever.”

The three films premiered will include:

•       ‘Everything is Not Okay’ by Eugene Muigai, who reflects on his own mental health struggles, utilising storytelling to bring people in his community together to also help them find their voice and create a stronger community.

•       ‘River of Brown Waters’ by Laissa Malih, which focuses on climate change and its effects on the life of communities around the Ewaso Nyiro river, examining how the community has adapted and worked together to overcome the challenges of the changing of the land.

•       ‘Rehema’ by Josh Kisamwa, a powerful story of a community female figure who has saved many child brides from forced marriage, while also campaigning for young people to have an opportunity for an education.



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Lok Yue
over 1 year ago

Will this 'modernisation' increase the funds available? And if it doesn't who will explain that the reasons promised aid and schemes are not forthcoming because buzzwords are more important than money, so there