post ad-campaign, UNICEF Germany!

February 6th, 2008

Filed under: News from Germany — Lissan Magazine @ 12:20

UNICEF Ad Campaign Uses White Children in Blackface to Portray “Uneducated Africans”
by Malena Amusa

This is an actual ad-campaign by UNICEF Germany!
This campaign is “blackfacing” white children with mud to pose as “uneducated africans”.

The headline translates “This Ad-campaign developped pro bono by the agency Jung von Matt/Alster shows four german kids who appeal for solidarity with their contemporaries in Afrika”


The first kid says:
“I’m waiting for my last day in school, the children in Africa still for their first one.”



Second kid:
“In Africa, many kids would be glad to worry about school”

Third kid:
“In Africa, kids don’t come to school late, but not at all” (!)


Fourth kid says:
“Some teachers suck. No teachers sucks even more.”

Besides claiming that every single person in “Africa” isn’t educated, and doing so in an extremely patronising way, it is also disturbing that this organisation thinks blackfacing kids with mud (!) equals “relating to African children”. Also, the kids’ statements ignore the existence of millions of African academics and regular people and one again reduces a whole continent to a village of muddy uneducated uncivilized people who need to be educated (probably by any random westerner). This a really sad regression.

Bottom lines of this campaign are: Black = mud = African = uneducated. White = educated. We feel this campaign might do just as much harm as it does any good. You don’t collect money for helping people by humiliating and trivializing them first.

Unfortunately, if it was clear to the average German that this is wrong, UNICEF and the advertising agency wouldn’t come out with such a campaign.

Please write your opinion and help make clear and explain why it is wrong to use “blackface with mud”, and write to UNICEF at as well as the advertising agency at with a copy to Black German media-watch-organization what you feel about this campaign and why. Please include a line that you’re going to publish your mail and the response.

By the way, the slogan of the advertising agency who came up with this, reads “we communicate on eye-level”.

Noah Sow


*This campaign of the UNICEF Germany was in Aug. 2007. After huge protest from various African communities and human right activists, the organization was forced to take these degrading pictures from its site. But the very fact that such a campaign has been launched by UNICEF is something that shouldn’t have happened at all.

UNICEF Germany is lately deep in corruption and mismanagement allegations. Heide Simonis, the president of UNICEF Germany has resigned recently protesting against the nontransparent management of the donation and the dominant bureaucratic methods. We will follow up this case and inform you in the next days. Lissan Team


  1. This is very sad! This is an insult to all black people in the world!As an African American, I am deeply offended for such ignorance of the people at UNICEF!

    Comment by Hykel — 6. February 2008 @ 16:29

  2. It is sad if the intention is to make all Africans look uneducated …..but I’m not sure if the ad really is negative. (Don’t shoot.) All I am saying is the ad is open for interpretation. Oh well.. only they are the ones who know the real implication. We should def. write to them and see…

    Comment by Kokebe — 6. February 2008 @ 17:39

  3. I guess their message wasn’t to insult any african, I Think it wansn’t too much clear, but possible to understand that when they say there are africans wanting a first day on school, It means that they are trying to make the problem bigger than what it really is, only to make people pay more attention, and help a bit more.

    Comment by Daniel — 24. April 2011 @ 14:17

  4. AD QUOTE: –This is an actual ad-campaign by UNICEF Germany!
    This campaign is “blackfacing” white children with mud to pose as “uneducated africans”.

    The headline translates “This Ad-campaign developped pro bono by the agency Jung von Matt/Alster shows four german kids who appeal for solidarity with their contemporaries in Afrika”

    l think this has been grossly misinterpreted, and the intentions behind it, which l believe are good, has been overlooked.

    Firstly, WHO SAYS, or where does it insinuate that the intention is to portray them ALL as ” uneducated Africans”???

    There IS a lot of poverty in Africa, children are starving and dying there for heavens sake, and there ARE many, many uneducated people there, BUT, people also know that there are also wealthy families and professional families and people living and working in Africa, so don`t assume we are all ignorant!
    They have said they did this to show solidarity with their contempories in Africa, so l presume they mean the children that are poor and not getting an education. They are trying to say they understand, and care! What is so terrible about that?

    Comment by Karen — 10. February 2012 @ 21:32

  5. @Karen
    I do accept your point on how African kids suffer. But I can’t accept this fact when people like you describe African problem as if it was home made and as if you people are engles who came to help us to fight against our home made misfortunes. But the reality is not like that.
    The reality is: Your industries are destroying our environment, your governments are manipulating our leaders, you are exploiting our natural resources, you export weapons to rebels, you have defined what we export through your world market regulations, you damp your toxic and industry garbage on our coasts, etcetera etcetera etcetera …….

    It’s appreciable that you are trying to help but don’t bother to help us if you think that you have nothing to do with the problem…… and, please, tell your clueless kids and all those behind such a project to be conscious of the root of the so called African problem,,,

    Comment by Tsedei — 11. February 2012 @ 11:27

  6. Wow! With dark faces, those white kids actually look like aboriginal or somalian kids.

    Comment by TT — 15. November 2012 @ 03:44

  7. This is very demeaning. Even if most of us have not had the opportunity to go to schools, we deserve to be treated with respect, since we do not paint ourselves white to portray whites anywhere, neither do we take others’ social ills and use them negatively.

    Comment by Bobby — 21. April 2013 @ 19:39

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