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