"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


costumes for development geeks

In case you're in need of a Halloween costume for a party with people of like-minded persuasion:
  • Bill Easterly & Jeff Sachs - Wear matching t-shirts that say, "Everything he says is wrong" above arrows pointing to the other. For Sachs, be sure to promote your latest book and drop the term "Millennium Villages" into every other sentence. For Easterly, wear a button that notes that you are the "8th Most Famous Native of Bowling Green, Ohio" and insist on solid statistical proof of everything anyone says to you. even if he or she talking about the quality of the onion dip.
  • Abu Sharati - Hey, if nobody else can find him, why shouldn't you be him?
  • Luis Moreno Ocampo - The nice thing about going as the ICC prosecutor is that the costume itself is fairly easy: a suit should do it. The real trick is the ability to stare plaintively into the distance with clear thoughts of human rights abuses on your mind at all hours of the night.
  • The "Old-timer" - You know. That guy. The logistics expert who's been at the field office for five years, despite the fact that your NGO limits everybody else to two year contracts. He's seen it all and won't let anyone forget it. Wear the same pair of wrinkled khakis you've been wearing every other day for the last eight months and a pair of sandals made from old tires. Respond to every comment with a "been-there, done that" sort of attitude, regardless of whether the subject is kidnappings, giardia, or meeting Angelina Jolie.
  • MIA Laurent Nkunda - What's Nkunda up to these days, besides writing his memoirs? (HT: Intern Chris at Wronging Rights) Who knows? You can make it up. Nkunda poolside? Nkunda plotting his escape? However you play it, just remember: for this costume to be authentic, you're gonna need a goat.
  • Hunger-striking celebrity - This only works if you have a waifish figure and can convincingly pretend that egg whites with lemongrass tea is a satisfying diet on a normal day. It doesn't really matter what you wear, but be prepared to talk about Africans in abstract terms that ignore the continent's diversity while perpetuating stereotypes of poverty, disease, and war.
  • Misguided Advocates - You'll need at least 4-5 people to pull this off. Everyone in the group should wear matching t-shirts with an oversimplified message, preferably one that shows a lack of knowledge about the people on whose behalf they claim to be advocating. "Let's Save the Country of Africa" would be an ideal slogan. A person or two should play the clueless celebrities, making statements about how they hope their art will reflect the struggle of people who speak African.
All in fun, gang, all in fun. Other ideas for Halloween costumes for our particular brand of geek?

(Update: Matt, who has some hilarious ideas in the comments, suggests this t-shirt for the misguided advocates.)


Anonymous Matt said...

For the misguided advocates, I'd suggest this fantastic shirt:


I've got a few more suggestions:

Esther Duflo - you can wear pretty much what you like, but before committing to anything you insist on randomising it - before trying the punch, use the random number generator on your calculator to sort everyone in the room into treatment and control groups.

UN Intern - get an empty notebook. Sit in a corner and look busy, from time to time begging other party-goers for some work to do.

Wife/husband of an embassy worker/head of mission - a few people might be best. Sit at the table, sipping drinks. Talk about the types of food you miss and all the different ways you try to make life here just like life back home.
Only talk to the other party-goers when you need help moving things.

IMF consultant - bring your laptop. Insist on opening it before answering any question.

Monday, October 26, 2009 5:21:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know some "misguided" advocates who went as misguided advocates a couple of years ago. (This is worst blind item ever. Not IC!)

Monday, October 26, 2009 9:20:00 AM

Blogger Chris Waluk said...

Matt, match that shirt with one of these and make heads turn!

I need to hit the gym and cut out the twinkies before I can pull something like that off, but I'd love to see someone else give it a shot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 3:51:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

That's it. Next year we're having a costume contest by emailed-in photo. Chris, you'd better get to work if you're going to pull off that Darfur number.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 5:00:00 PM


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