Let’s look at what happens to the clothes we give to charity, says BBC News Magazine. And off we go to a place where impoverished Zambians are embarrassingly grateful; the clothes must have been possessed or belonged to the dead. The British are so kind; sacrificing for Africa when they have families of their own.
But what worried me here was the way in which the long-term impact of our extraordinary generosity is cursorily dismissed. That Zambia has no rag trade of its own is acknowledged, but that this might be because they can’t compete with freebies is ‘hotly contested’.
Rather than marvel at the naivety of the recipients of our charity (poor superstitious souls), it would be nice to have a genuine ethical debate. People need clothes now, of course, but they also need jobs. The argument that flooding African countries with second hand clothes doesn’t destroy local jobs needs some considerable explanation.