Bondye From the Mountaintop

New Media Fellows 2013

By Sokari Ekine

August 08, 2013

Also published at BlackLooks

Last Sunday, I took a trip up to the highest point overlooking the city of Port-au-Prince and took a few photos – it wasn’t particularly inspiring.


Until I saw this little girl in luminous green – I missed the full body shot.


Whilst being harassed by street vendors all selling the same old same old except for these fellows on sewing machines.


This is Haiti, so it was no suprise to come across a bus of white saviours – they are everywhere, sent to Heal Haiti, which assumes she is sick.

An overheard abusive comment directed at a young white woman goes something like this – ‘please marry me so I can have babies that look like you and I will never be hungry again.’  The damage, though not altogether irreparable, is severe enough to elicit rage inside of me. The heroes of the past become meaningless caricatures amongst the endless parade of white and black faith healers calling for the heads of queer folk, upholding biblical patriarchy and responding to poverty as some biblical pestilence due to sin and human failings.


I learned that there is an organisation in the U.S. called Feed My Starving Children, supported by corporate sponsors including the Minnesota Vikings football team. They raise tens of millions to feed the poor in Haiti and 74 other countries. Their website has a photo of two young white well-fed children full of cheer as they bag up cups of dried soya, this juxtaposed with photos of a Haitian toddler sitting on a dirt floor eating the reconstituted packed food and a smiling Guatemalan boy holding a pack of Manna [as in manna from heaven] Rice. FMSC hopes to put an end to starving children by the miracle of compassion:

With God’s help Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) will strive to eliminate starvation in children throughout the world by helping to instill compassion in people to hear and respond to the cries of those in need.

Manna from Corporate Heaven, providing a great deal of people with the feel-good factor that they helped feed God’s starving Haitian and Guatemalan children.

Feeding hungry children is laudable. However, if you have been doing this for the past 25 years and people in the same towns and villages remain hungry, then clearly this is no solution to liberating people from the prison of hunger. Unless of course you believe that the poor exist in order for you to feed them, thereby ensuring your ascendency to heavenly glory! I lament the fact that FMSC raises tens of millions every year to feed hungry kids in dependent perpetuity, but a project like Growing Haiti to provide commercially viable and sustainable urban farming cannot even raise a few thousand – a project that would initially provide jobs for 150 women so they could feed their families fresh nutritious food rather than dried-up rice and soya nuggets melted in boiling water. Maybe Oprah could help now that she missed out on the $38,000 bag in the ‘you cant put a price on racism’ drama!

I left the hilltop and stopped off at St Joseph’s Mission in Delmas, rebuilt after the earthquake – my friend sits and contemplates the day and plans for tomorrow – I walk around taking more photos only to later discover my battery died, which could be a metaphor for something.


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