Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

The white saviour complex

Article from AFRIC Editorial
At the hearing of the phrase 'White Saviour Complex', one gets a lot of imaginations. Firstly, living in a world of different races, there is no doubt about the existence of some sort of superiority complex or racism. Some find themselves richer, better, greater and more important persons than others. The complex mostly ranges between the white-skinned and black-skinned. The white race has always believed to be superior back from the days of colonialism and it continues in the form of neo-colonialism today. Whiles some look at the notion from a religious perspective with Christ Jesus being the White Saviour.Often than not misinterpreted, 'White Saviour Complex' is actually a notion which refers to a white person who acts to help non-white people, with the help in some context being perceived as self-serving. Many a time, we notice white celebrities who visit African countries and portray the pitiable side of it by taking shots with poor looking African kids or even exposing the ill conditions in which some people live. By so doing, they act as sympathizers or ''saviours'' to such situations by extending a helping hand. But then, the real motives of their acts are for selfish gains


‘White Saviour Complex’, a phenomenon that has eaten deep into the global fabric portrays the white man as being the perfect saviour of non-white races, especially Africans. This complex is found in culture, politics, religion, sports and many other domains. White people usually get to grow impatient with the work pace of certain cultures, internally and wrongly assuming that the West’s work ethic is the most efficient.

The White Saviour Complex in practice looks like this: foreign volunteers doing work that can be done by local people and local leadership, voluntourists exploiting the lives, stories, faces, and culture of African people through social media by treating them as entertainment and taking photos of them in their day to day life (often without permission), international adoptions through illegitimate means, even without the kids being orphans, with the general idea that white foreigners should be adopting children in Africa as a means of saving them.

The phenomenon further takes root in Africa where leadership is in most cases very counterproductive, exposing the people to the negative spectacle of white supremacist support that only helps in corroborating the white saviour complex concept which most Africans can eloquently defend as holy bible truth.

In just a few years on either side of 1960, a wave of struggles for independence was sweeping across Africa. It is during that period that many African countries declared independence and freed themselves from their former colonial masters. Because of internal conflicts, wars and repressive regimes that characterized the post-colonial period, the continent somehow became a donor-recipient with the international community extending their support.

We can vehemently say the “white saviour complex” has been as old as creation because whites in all strata have never “helped” blacks without a secondary motive. From the colonial times when whites started having contacts with blacks visibly, they got into the continent as missionaries and exchanged their religion with almost all of Africa’s resources. As far back as the transatlantic slave trade period, they brought tobacco, mirror, strong drinks just to collect slaves and natural resources. From the slave trade, they brought colonialism and made Africans believe that their main aim was to help develop the black continent. Whereas that again proves their intentions being self-serving.

In addition to that, there are some African countries in the CEMAC zone and some in West Africa which are using the Franc CFA. But then, the money is only produced in France with all their foreign reserves saved there.

The bitter truth is, this whole issue of white supremacy is a farce fabricated by the white man to continue to mentally enclave other races especially black people while their interest is achieved. In the religious domain, it all started way back with the growth of modern Christianity where the Christian Jesus is very white, while the non-Christian Satan is very black as if to say; white save black, thus white is light and black is darkness. In the Roman Catholic Church equally, we are yet to see the first black pope. Yet, the White man through colonial masters brought missionaries to Africa and claimed to make them understand that all men are equal before God, whereas it was all to distort their cultural beliefs and remain supreme.


Trying to unveil the obscure face of the helping hand extended by the white, without mentioning the military assistance, would be like frying an egg without breaking it. Studies have related conflicts in Africa with the continent’s oil and mineral resources that Western powers are tactically scrambling to control through the militarised foreign policy and geopolitical wars. According to Yunus Lubega, a Ugandan scholar, West’s “imperial” interest in Africa’s wealth is what first led to conquest and more recently the creation of a centralised military forces, and now his interest has shaped global geopolitics from pre-World War II through the Cold War to the present in Congo, Darfur, Somalia, Sudan, Niger, Angola, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Uganda. Pointing out the effect of Western militarisation of most African countries.

A bigger problem for the West and France, in particular, may come from the Nigerien military. A high percentage of Niger’s soldiers believe that France serves its interests and that it contributes to the instability or aggravation of the conflict. Army officers see the Western military presence as an attack on national sovereignty. They also see the former colonial power’s support as ineffectual, largely because the French forces relegate Niger’s troops to a subordinate role, invariably denying them access to key data regarding terrorist movements, and other such information.

Thus, each time the western powers claim to come help fight civil wars, it rather becomes a good platform to sell their arms and exploit other resources. When it comes to building infrastructure in the name of development, it is to carry our petrol to store as reserves. Recently the Middle East saga of taking Africans to go work there has turned out to make them modern-day slaves.

A team of African professionals based in Kampala, Uganda is actually working to seeing things change in a more equitable & anti-racist direction through their collective experience in the development & aid sectors. They are actually the advocates of the ‘No White Saviours’ campaign and have as watchword; ”We never said ‘no white people’. We just know you shouldn’t be the hero of the story”.

In order to be able to combat this phenomenon, the white man needs to be hyper-aware of colonialism and the power balance that historically exists between them and the communities they are working in, practice partnership and servant leadership, we need to actively ensure that local communities remain at the forefront of their organizations and projects. There must be a model of sustainability and regeneration of the projects being supported. Making sure that their works do not create dependency. Thus, whatever work they create must be able to operate in their absence. This intend avoids the tendency of projects not getting into complexion when the ‘white project managers’ return to their countries of origin. Sharing expertise is therefore unavoidable.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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