Voluntourism in Sub-Saharan Africa is Expiation by the West, but Only Creates Further Dependency on the West



The political, economic, and moral implications of the international industry of voluntourism in Sub-Saharan Africa must be investigated as the sector continues to grow exponentially in Western popularity. This research critically investigates the extent to which the operationalisation of voluntourism is complicit as a form of normalised neo-colonialism and has been disguised as Western aid, then resultantly forced upon African communities. The essay uses a historical overview of the progression from colonialism and missionaries to the expansion of voluntourism to scrutinise the design of voluntourism. Intertwined through this overview is a post-colonial assessment of this instance of gatekeeping African development as a form othering alongside a Wallersteinian world systems investigation of the profit-making industry. The research argues that rather than being a sustainable form of international development in Africa, voluntourism allows the West to believe that they are helping and making reparations to Africa. In actuality, it is an industry that has become integral to Western self-development as a stepping-stone in Western adolescence as this normalisation of tourism in African poverty is seen as a pure and good deed. This essay evaluates the impact of the rhetoric that voluntourism transcends internationally and domestically in both regions, from continuing an international inequal relationship between the two regions as the West profits from Africa’s poverty, whilst domestically in the West it continues symbolic and structural racism and domestically within Africa, the White Saviour and domination of Eurocentric epistemology restricts African youths’ right to their own development pathways.


  • Year: 2022
  • Volume: 5 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 2
  • DOI: 10.5334/glo.50
  • Published on 13 Jul 2022
  • Peer Reviewed