English: One of the goals of the African renaissance and related projects is the transformation of the power relations between the West and Africa. This paper demonstrates the way in which western discourses on Africa perpetuate problematic power relations. The portrayal of Africa as an ailing patient in need of western assistance is scrutinised. These discourses are shown to be part of the complex structures which allow western dominance to continue. The African renaissance’s response is briefly discussed, with special attention to NEPAD. Finally, the paper suggests a new response, emphasising the importance of challenging western discourses as part of the African renaissance.