CAREERS: WORTH A LOOK ... A Passage to Africa

JULIE PYBUS

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There is a symbiotic relationship between foreign correspondents and aid agencies: news editors need compelling pictures of human suffering and aid workers can provide contacts quickly; in turn, news coverage can help raise more funds in times of crisis.

During his time as the BBC's Africa correspondent, George Alagiah worked closely with aid agency staff. This book chronicles the background to the reports that Alagiah was sending home from Africa and there are many fascinating insights into the reality of delivering aid to troubled spots.

Alagiah debates the moral quandaries that aid workers face every day in Africa - the need to pay bribes to warlords in Somalia, and the dilemma over whether the cholera-stricken Hutus in Zaire were evil agents of genocide, undeserving of help, or humans in need of medicine.

In Sudan in 1998, Alagiah reveals that aid agencies attempted to control his movements after he criticised their response to a famine. "Imagine that, he says. "A group of foreigners trying to decide who should enter a country over which they had no jurisdiction."

The involvement of the white man in Africa since the time of slavery is constantly questioned and Alagiah looks forward to a time when Africans will rule themselves. Will Alagiah's new Africa want, or need, the help of Western aid agencies?

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