Stop the Pity is a trailblazing project that is fighting to break down the ‘us and them’ mentality adopted by the West toward people in developing nations. A video campaign that captures the lively spirit of people in Africa, Stop the Pity operates with the goal of re-humanizing and shining a positive light on Africa and its people.
Stop the Pity was launched in 2011 by Mama Hope, an organization working to empower people in Africa. Using a model of connected development, Mama Hope functions as a median between communities and the resources they need to solve local programs. Mama Hope begins each project by listening to the needs of their partner communities and helping to build solutions tailored to each community’s specific situation. So far, Mama Hope has completed 32 projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, and Uganda.
Mama Hope’s newest project, Stop the Pity, was formed out of a growing awareness of the Western perception of people in developing nations as victims. Directly intended to serve as a counterbalance to videos depicting silent, sad images of people in the developing world, Stop the Pity has created videos that show off the light, vivacity and potential of these people.
So far, the organization has created four videos that share the compelling truth about the lives of the people they work with. The first video tells the story of Alex, a 9 year-old boy in Moshi, Tanzania. The video spotlights his imagination, creativity and humor. Stop the Pity’s second video emphasizes a theme of global interconnectedness through a split screen lip-syncing video to Paul Simon’s song “You Can Call Me Al.” The video depicts Americans and Africans as equals, just having fun and dancing to Paul Simon.
Stop the Pity’s third video pokes fun at the way African men are portrayed in Hollywood films. Packed with funny, thought-provoking scenes, the video breaks down stereotypes through the stories of four young African men. The final video is one of the women of the Nyamonge neighborhood in Kisumu village, Kenya and their love for the sport netball. The video is a fun montage portraying the competitiveness, tenacity and hilarity of the Nyamonge netball women.
Each video spotlights the universal human traits that bring people together, notably dancing, singing and laughing. Rather than focusing on the harsh stories of people in Africa, Stop the Pity chooses to highlight the liveliness and kindness that make the viewer experience genuine empathy and care. Without overtly dictating any emotional responses, Stop the Pity cements these feelings out of an authentic sense of connectedness rather than pity.
You can check out the videos here, but be prepared to be moved, inspired and laugh, all at the same time.
– Tara Young