Friday, July 4, 2008
Nicholas Kristof's op-ed, "The Luckiest Girl," was, on the morning of July 4th, the most popular emailed article in the New York Times. For some reason, this particular piece irked me when I read it this morning, and I have spent the day trying to understand exactly why. I think it is because in this piece, Uganda, the place I now consider my second home, morphs into just another "African country" and Beatrice into another "African girl," as if using the word "African" somehow ought to convey some implicit understanding among the readers about what Africa or Africans are. I am, of course, glad that Beatrice received a good education, but dismayed at the notion or insinuation that the appropriate course of action for "Westerners" or those to want to "make a difference" is to launch a bunch of goats at poor farmers. Perhaps I am reading too much into Kristof's piece, but I cannot help my instant recoil at yet another portrayal of a very specific place and context as just another generic piece of an amorphous puzzle called "Africa."