EDITORIAL: Harry In Africa
Prince Harry has yet again made news headlines: this time, fortunately for him, for all the supposedly right reasons. There were no swastikas, Nazi uniforms or pole dancers present: only the clichéd, smiling faces of African children for this now-customary photo opportunity.
After so much negative press at home, what better way to dodge bad headlines than by hugging a few black babies? The very same babies who, if they live to adulthood and have the good fortune to travel, will again make the same newspaper headlines, only this time, as “Asylum Seekers,” “Illegal Immigrants,” or “Foreign Criminals.”
The prince fulfilled all the customary postures and poses, appearing droopy eyed and despondent when necessary, then later sharing a joke, making funny faces, and tickling the belly of an African baby, all before presenting a piece to camera about the scourges of poverty, HIV/AIDS, or some other plague in Africa.
But even though I find the opportunistic exploitation of Africa detestable, I also recognise that, in this case, the prince is himself a victim. I don’t assume for one moment that Prince Harry wanted to be holding an African child and waffling to camera about poverty or constantly having to live up to comparisons of his mother. I’m quite sure he’d have rather been in a strip bar or out playing polo with the lads. But the prince seems destined to live his life chained to the memory of his mother or trying to hide from the shadow of his brother, and all because the media seems determined to own his soul.
The problems of Africa are many and the solutions few. The continent needs as much help as it can get; however, lets cut the pretense, the hypocrisy and the patronising exploitation by celebrities, who take their photos with hungry African children, only to later return to the West to continue their lives of excess and extravagance.
Ishmahil Blagrove, Jr.
1st May 2006