Comic Relief has decided to stop sending celebrities to Africa following criticism that they were going to the continent as “white saviours”.
The charity also announced its intentions to stop making use of images of critically ill and starving individuals to portray Africa, with future fundraising appeals to be made by local-film makers in order for a “more authentic perspective” to be portrayed.
The charity also said it will work with media organisations across Africa to raise “awareness of wider narratives across the continent” and promised to make “every aspect” of its production “more diverse and inclusive”.
The move comes following heavy criticism against the charity’s tradition of sending British stars to poor African regions and filming their reactions. Documentary film maker Stacey Doole was criticised by Labour MP David Lammy last year following her trip to a Ugandan neonatal clinic that was supported by Comic Relief, while in 2017 Ed Sheeran was handed the “Rusty Radiator”, an award given to the “most offensive and stereotypical fundraising video of the year”.
Comic Relief co-founder Sir Lenny Henry has welcomed the change.
“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.”