General Question

artificialard's avatar

Is it a problem in doing development work in Africa to being different race/orientation?

Asked by artificialard (2273points) September 29th, 2008

I’m almost finished my undergraduate degree and have always wanted to apply my skills to development work in Africa (other developing regions as well but I’d prefer Africa). It would be in a business/tech capacity, such as project planning or deploying information technology for various infrastructure or economic stimulus programs for up to 6–7 months at a time.

I’m wondering for those that have experience or insight – can you comment on whether Asians or homosexuals would have a problem doing development work in Africa? I don’t feel the need to be ‘out and about’ and won’t be looking for either a relationship or drag show there. I’m just wondering how private one has to be there, if that actually becomes a tangible issue of safety.

Sorry if I seem like an ignorant wad – I have no firsthand experience but I’m fully cognizant of the fact that across the entire continent various regions/cities/countries will vary in terms of social progression and cultural norms (I wouldn’t ask if I was going to Cape Town) but there are assignments all over Africa. I’d like to hear across the board to get a better idea of how it is.

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9 Answers

Mtl_zack's avatar

south africa is probably the most understanding country when it comes to these matters, but only in urban areas. if you go to a rural area, then you’ll probably not be as welcome. that applies for most of africa. its sad, but its true. most urban areas are welcoming to homosexuals (cape town has the most progressive ideals about sexuality). as for the asian matter, are you from the far east, india, middle east? people from the far east are sometimes known as cheap and ripoffs. indians are ok there, mainly because they were also fighting apartheid. there is a big muslim community for middle-easterners.

another thing: they dont like americans that much in south africa, so try to conceal your accent, if possible and dont flaunt your wealth. be ready to drive like a maniac, too.

good luck!

osakarob's avatar

I don’t have an answer to your question, but I have a better resource for where you can ask it. The Monterey Institute of International Studies is a small, private graduate school in California. Every scholar in the International Policy School is bilingual and go on to careers in NGOs, relief organizations, international businesses and policy think tanks. There have been many with extensive experience in development work in Africa.
I would urge you to post your question on their facebook page. You will surely receive intelligent, experienced responses from men and women who have worked in development in Africa with the same sexual orientation.
Their official one is

The unofficial ones are

artificialard's avatar

@Mtl zack I’m Chinese but raised Canadian – I’d say our culture is considered to be fairly deferent (compared to the US). My first language is North American English but I was born and spent some early years in Hong Kong so I have the ability to adapt a British accent without sounding like an SNL character.

Mtl_zack's avatar

im canadian too, but people didnt always realize this. make sure to put many canadian flags on all your luggage and bags and whatnot. if you correct people and say you’re canadian, their hatred will instantly turn into love and helpfulness with bits of curiosity too.

another big tip: if something is stated on paper, it doesn’t mean the same thing when put into practice. the thing can not happen at all, could happen but too much of it will happen, or it will happen in the way that you dont want it to happen. this is with instructions, directions on a map, travel arrangements, and also the law. if you ever need help, see the manager.

artificialard's avatar

@Mtl zack Ha yes. I would indeed pack my Roots gear and various Canadian paraphernalia. I remember people in Europe were so much more pleasant when I started wearing our flag pin and making fun of George Bush. Because I’m doing development work I do wonder if the typical local African follows the foibles of the western world and would have the same values as us on the various differences between the western world’s countries/citizens.

The only way I’d go is through one of Service Canada’s programs that are legitimately well-established but competitive. The point on not being completely trusting of what’s being told to me once I’m there and ensuring my own throughway though is well-taken. Thanks!

pathfinder's avatar

Maybe somewhere in a wildeness at the farm.It could be possible choise.I mean do some work at the farm.This could mean no problems about a system.Learn about mature like kinde of chalange witch is axeptible..

Mtl_zack's avatar

@pathfinder: what?

artificialard's avatar

Echo Mtl zack – the work I’m doing by definition is to improve the conditions another region through technology or business development. Rural areas would not garner any benefit from my skills. I can’t even assemble IKEA furniture, never mind a house or an irrigation system.

americanandfree's avatar

Try the backwoods in Kentucky or Tennessee. Americans need help, some are hungry and homeless.

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