Last week, South Africa celebrated Mandela Day. 18 July was Nelson Mandela's birthday. At some point, someone decided that the best way to honour the legacy of Mandela was to encourage people to volunteer 67 minutes on his birthday to help others. This sounds like a good idea. Replace volatile rallies, endless speeches and the risk of the legacy being politicised, with getting people to commit to helping others.
Instead, South Africa has managed to turn voluntourism into a national sport. Yes, I know local volunteering normally avoids the pitfalls of voluntourism; this doesn't. All the problems with rich (white) people popping over to Africa/Asia/South America to "volunteer" by hugging smiling babies for a week-long vacation, crammed into one day of the year. Into 67 minutes, ... [view whole blog post ]