Dear Mr. Dalzine,
Thank you very much for your letter and your comments on the advertisment for our "Schools for Africa" initiative. Please let me try to explain context and message of the ad.
The German Committee for UNICEF has started a campaign to promotechild-friendly schools in six African countries in late 2004. This campaign aims to raise awareness on the fact that nearly half of all children in Africa lack even primary education.
With funds from private donors, since then 350 schools have been repaired or newly constructed. In addition, several thousand teachers were trained and school management improved. In total, some hundred thousand children and young people have benefitted from this campaign since 2004.
The right to education for all children is a prerequisite to develop their full potential and a basis for social and economic development. But still many governments - including the G8-countries - do not stick to their promise in the so-called "Millennium Declaration" to reach "education for all" until 2015.
We therefore tried to bring the issue up to the agenda of the G8 summit which took place in Germany in June this year. One element of our advocacy work was this ad which was developed pro bono by Jung von Matt.
The idea behind is that children from Germany demonstrate their solidarity with children in Africa by showing up with a coloured make up. Their message s: "Children may look different but are equal - we all want to go to school." Absolutely no connotation of black children as "dirty children" was intended.
Before publishing the ad, we had carefully discussed possible misinterpretations and the agency had also tested public reaction in a survey in Germany, without receiving negative comments. Neither did we receive any negative reaction from the German public after publication.
The ad was published in a few high-quality print media like Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Spiegel, Die Zeit, Stern, free-of-charge. These media had never volunteered to publish the ad if they would have expected a negative connotation. Obviously, the perception of the ad varies by country.
There are no plans to promote the ad further as it was explicitly developed for the G8 summit. Your remarks have caused us to drop it from our website.
We apologize if you feel irritated by the make up of the children. Please rest assured that we take your remarks very seriously and will consider them in any further communication.
Thank you for sharing your comments with us.
With kind regards,
German Committee for UNICEF
Hoeninger Weg 104, 50969 Koeln
Phone: +49 (0) 221-93650-235
Fax: +49 (0) 221-93650-301
In case you want to know, my opinion on this is:
UNICEF Germany showed that they still don't really understand why their campaign is offensive:
„Before publishing the ad, we had carefully discussed possible misinterpretations and the agency had also tested public reaction in a survey in Germany, without receiving negative comments. Neither did we receive any negative reaction from the German public after publication."
1) what about the quotes that practically say all africans are un-educated?
2) Now, we find it important to explain just exactly why this campaign is wrong, because in Germany it is really not clear at all why the campaign is offensive. The UK and US experience can help get the point across, so that in the future this won't be just "one example of a bad campaign" and happen again. We would like to generalize why the means of "blackface" and "white kids speak for "african" kids" ( a.s.o.) and the „quotes" in the ad are not okay.
Besides, a similar campaign that had been tested early 2007 used white grown-ups with faces painted brown instead of children. We know of organisations that had been asked their opinion by UNICEf/JvM and who had strongly suggested to not publish such a campaign. Why UNICEF and JvM thought it would be less offensive if children do the blackface, stays their secret.
I'd be very happy if you'd like to help get the point across.
Check this out, if you'd like to forward, it's being frequently updated.
der braune mob e.V.
media-watch - schwarze deutsche in medien und öffentlichkeit
Jul 19, 2007
Dear Mr. Dalzine,