High-level policies aren’t his only frustration. Ruge has also called out celebrity-led charities, like actor Ashton Kutcher’s 2009 campaign against malaria, which had him racing CNN for a million Twitter followers. The Hollywood star promised to buy 10,000 bed nets if he won. In response, Ruge wrote on his blog, “Celebrity stunts of altruism are killing livelihoods in Africa.”
If I am to be completely honest, what wasn’t said in this interview was that my underlying call for better development — myself and other Africans I know doing great development projects in their communities — is that we want to be recognized as change agents and heroes in the communities we work in.
When I go out jogging in the morning, I want those kids walking to school to say, I want to grow up and do what he does. I want to be like him. I want members of my community to see that “hey, it is possible for one of our own to deliver change, to think big, and to think about our future.” I don’t want that sense of wonder of possibility to be usurped by a backpack wearing gap-year kid building water wells or a white chauffeured SUV with foreign logos on it doing badly-designed “capacity building”.
This is isn’t arrogance. It is agency personified.