Downton Abbey goes to Sierra Leone

I couldn’t tell whether Elizabeth McGovern was still in character, as Lady Cora, visiting 1920s British Sierra Leone.


More hear.

As expected, a lot is being said about the video’s depiction of the savior complex and pre-contact thinking that is pervasive in the aid world. Ruminate on this gem for a second. No, make that three minutes:

“The father lives in another house. But they are still together. I think that he may have two wives.”

”I get the impression that in Africa people have sex far more freely than we do back home,” reflects McGovern. “You see certain cultures where there’s just endemic cruelty to women. I wonder if World Vision would take on the problem of women wearing the burka? And that clitoris thing is awful.”

But I would be more interested in finding out the feelings this video evokes among the political and economic elite, old and young, in Sierra Leone. Do they watch this and go like, wow absent help from elsewhere the Brits could make us their colony again today and there is nothing we could do about it? Do they watch this and go, we have to put the World Visions of this world out of business in Sierra Leone or do they see it as a pressure valve, yet another reason to not care about building functional health and education infrastructure for their people?