reality TV comes to Kabale

What do you get when you mix eight British multi-millionaires, three weeks in Uganda and a mission to improve the living standards of an African village?

Disaster, mostly. And also a new reality television show sponsored by World Vision, a non-profit known mostly for its child sponsorship program.

Ugandan bloggers have reacted strongly to the show, calling it “preposterous” and “another naïve thing from the West.” World Vision’s official line is that the show “explor[es] the complexities of development work and the causes of poverty,” which sounds very noble, but I’m going to side with the blogren.

Let’s recap: eight millionaires with no real knowledge of Uganda. $240,000. Three weeks. Granted, they have a “mentor” and a handy-dandy World Vision quick guide to sustainable development, but I have a hard time believing they’re going to accomplish something in three weeks that countless other professional aid agencies have failed to do in decades.

Even more than that, Millionaires’ Mission seems to trivialize the problems in Uganda, turning an entire village into an experiment. What role do the Ugandans have in this? So far, they’ve been filmed waving machetes at their supposed benefactors. Way to propagate Conrad-era stereotypes.

Tumwijuke argues that Millionaires’ Mission showcases the “humiliation of Ugandans” and criticizes the show for being just another excuse to watch rich westerners run around Africa. I think she’s absolutely right.

I couldn’t resist: World Vision tells viewers to “Forget the jargon and get a quick guide to some of the key development themes…. sustainability, aid, trade, participation….” In other words, “jargon, jargon, jargon, jargon….”