Wednesday, 19 February 2014

NGOs - the new missionaries?

While many NGOs in Africa see their work as closely tied up with struggles against poverty and inequality and in favour of a more just, equitable world, critics of NGOs argue that they often end up undermining rather than furthering struggles for justice in Africa. This view has, for example, been expressed in a much-debated article by Firoze Manji and Carl O’Coill. Pambazuka published a summary of the article in which they describe it as follows:

“Development NGOs operating in Africa have inadvertently become part of the neo-liberal global agenda, serving to undermine the battle for social justice and human rights in much the same way as their missionary predecessors, argues a paper in the July issue of International Affairs. The paper says that the contribution of NGOs to relieving poverty is minimal, while they play a "significant role" in undermining the struggle of African people to emancipate themselves from economic, social and political oppression. In this compromised position, NGOs face a stark choice: They can move into the political domain and support social movements that seek to challenge a social system that benefits a few and impoverishes the majority; or they can continue unchanged and thus become complicit in a system that leaves the majority in misery.”

Firoze Manji (pictured left) will be participating in the 2014 Thinking Africa colloquium on ‘NGOs and Social Justice in Africa’ where he will be discussing the role of NGOs in furthering (or hampering) struggles for social justice in Africa.

The summary which appeared in Pambazuka is available here:
More information about the upcoming colloquium can be found here:,104671,en.html

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