Louise Linton just wrote the perfect White-Savior-in-Africa story

Added: 06-19-2018

In this review article, Karen Attiah breaks down how Louise Litton story about her ‘trip to Africa’ is flawed and offensive. She uses terms that hark back to the 19th century and shows ignorance that reflects little or no research prior to travel.

Africa is a Country white savior Eurocentrism orphans racism How to Write About Africa Heart of Darkness ignorant educational exchanges

Type Reading Time Author Date Source
article 5 minutes KAREN ATTIAH 07-06-2016 https://www.washingtonpost.com/
Type Reading Time
article 5 minutes
Author Date
karen attiah 2018-06-19 00:00:00 UTC
Key Takeaways
  • Stories written by Westerners often center on a white person and the challenges they face in Africa. 
  • Stories about Africa written by outsiders often emphasize the negative aspects of society: war, poverty, animals or disease.


Karen Attiah explains the context of Louise Linton’s story - she is a young white woman who travelled to Zambia in 1999 and unwittingly became endangered in the conflict occurring in the area at the time.  

Linton goes on to write a quintessentially racist and ignorant piece, placing herself at the center of the ‘African’ story. Attiah uses the piece to make her own version of the classic article "How to Write about Africa." Attiah uses overt examples from Linton’s story to highlight the following blunders in books and article like Linton’s: 

  • Make up for being light on research or knowledge about Africa by being heavy with good intentions. 
  • Must include references to war, poverty, animals or disease (bonus points for all four in one story). 
  • Whiteness must be centered in stories about Africa. At all times. 
  • African orphans (bonus points for photos with said orphans). 
  • In the end, Africa must serve to remind Westerners to be happy about their own lives even when they feel down.

From https://www.washingtonpost.com/