Currents

The Africa You Need To Know

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By Gbemisola Olujobi, Pulitzer Fellow, Annenberg School for Communication.

What is disaster pornography? Africans define it as the Western media’s habit of blacking out Africa’s stock markets, high rises, internet cafes, cell phones, heart surgeries, soaring literacy and increasing democratization, while gleefully parading her genocides, armed conflicts, child soldiers, foreign debts, hunger, disease, and backwardness.

This dehumanization of Africa has become a matter of concern not only to Africans, at home and in the Diaspora, but apparently also to teeming non-Africans who have suckled at Africa’s generous breasts.

“Yes, Africa is a land of wars, poverty and corruption. The situation in places like Darfur, Sudan, desperately cries out for more media attention and international action. But Africa is also a land of stock markets, high rises, internet cafes and a growing middle class. This is the part of Africa that functions. And this Africa also needs media attention, if it is to have any chance of fully joining the global economy.”

“We hear about famines and coups, but not the rejuvenation of its cities and the cultural vitality of its village life…about oppression and massacres, but not education, economic self-help and political development… about poaching and habitat destruction, but not ongoing active efforts at conservation, reforestation and environmental awareness.”

“Yet while Africa, according to the U.S. Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation, offers the highest return in the world on direct foreign investment, it attracts the least. Unless investors see the Africa that is worthy of investment, they won’t put their money into it. And that lack of investment translates into job stagnation, continued poverty and limited access to education and health care.”

Rwandan President, Paul Kagame also says, “The constant negative reporting kills the growth of foreign direct investment. There has even been a suggestion that it is meant to keep Africa in the backyard of the global economy.”

According to Charles Stith, former US ambassador to Tanzania, “One thing blocking a fuller perception of Africa’s progress may be implicit racism. There is a historic framework that by definition sees Africa … and Africans as inferior and negative and makes most stories about the continent negative. By contrast, China has problems, but we see and hear other things about China. Russia has problems, yet we see and read other things about Russia. That same standard should apply to Africa.”

Please read the full article here.

A journalist since 1984, Gbemisola Olujobi is the former Editor of the Living Section at The Guardian, Nigeria’s biggest and most influential newspaper. The bulk of her work as a journalist has been in the area of women’s rights as human rights.

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