Article for The Guardian on Comic Relief and Red Nose Day

I have written an article for The Guardian today (24th March) to mark Red Nose Day and Comic Relief: Africa deserves better from Comic Relief.

Comic Relief should make us angry, not just guilty. It has a unique position in our national life - with this comes a responsibility to ask tough questions and tackle complex issues.

The tired format is patronising to Africans and ignores the complex nature of the continent. The show does nothing to challenge the blurring of 54 separate, sovereign nations into a single reservoir of poverty, grief and suffering.

Where is discussion of trade policy and tax avoidance by international companies?

Why, in 2017, are we continuing to perpetuate a myth rooted in our imperial and colonial past?

Why are one billion people divided into just two categories – powerful and corrupt or destitute and starving?

Comic Relief’s biannual guilt trip perpetuates stereotypes and fails to move the debate on in a constructive way.

It should make us incandescent that the corruption in many states is fuelled by “donations” from shell companies linked to corporations that are listed on our own stock exchange.

A 5% rise in developing countries’ share of world exports would generate $350bn – seven times as much as they receive in aid – and profit-shifting by multinational companies costs developing nations $100bn a year that they could spend on education, infrastructure and public services.

We must have voices debating debt and dictatorship, trade agreements and climate change, education and entrepreneurship – not just appeals for people to sit back on their sofa, laugh and pledge a few pounds.

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