Enough with western voices: ‘experts’ are fueling dangerous development myths

Throughout the Ebola crisis, pages and pages were written about the good work done by foreign missions like Médecins Sans Frontières and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ebola deaths weresensationalised in the media but the African doctors and nurses who shouldered the greatest burden of the death toll were noticeably absent.

It was refreshing to read a few acknowledgements for non-western heroes in Time magazine, but this was not enough. These frontline experts deserve to tell their stories and they need support with skills to leverage available opportunities and communication channels. No one can tell the story of Ebola better than those who fought the disease first hand.

At the 2nd International Conference on Global Food Security in New York, many of the world’s top food security experts convened to discuss everything from genetically modified foods and indigenous crops, to livestock, land use and climate change.

Notably absent on the podiums, though, were faces that looked like mine. Speakers from Africa or elsewhere in the global south were few and far between. The absence of voices rooted in experience came with a lack of nuance and the context these questions need if we want to answer them effectively.