by Chris Ezeh
Published on: Dec 24, 2004
Type: Opinions

Most people never get bothered when news-agenda setters suddenly turn a continent into a country or when Gambia or Kenya suddenly assumes the same weight in meaning as the continental Africa. But many Africans do. The issues of the continued media misrepresentation of Africa and media bias against the Continental Africa are omnipresent in most western media reports on Africa and constitute great headache and cankerworm to every African living in the Diaspora.

Fairness in news reporting calls not only for our concern with the utmost precise presentation of the bare news and facts but equally, the geo-political environment must stand in fair, accurate profile to the reported event.
Media professionals know that it is not just enough to report for instance on TV that, “President John Agyekum Kofoh of Ghana is on a five-day official visit to Holland” without adequate emphasis given to the correct pronunciation of the names or the geo-political importance of Ghana to Holland or Her status in Africa. We all know the might of the media and how this might has shaped and adversely influenced the image of Africa world-wide.

An example of such news reports that send shock-waves to Africans is discrediting front-page news in Der Spiegel a (German Weekly) reportage few years ago, with the obnoxious caption: Elends Kontinent Afrika Rettung durch die Weißen? (Misery Continent Africa, Should the Whites come to rescue?) I felt really sad reading it. I asked myself again and again how is this possible?

In this case, it was just a report on the former situation in Somalia and suddenly someone thought Somalia has automatically assumed the position of a Continent. Many Africans feel very sad seeing the daily media portrayal of the continental Africa as a country. When civil war breaks out in Liberia: The whole Africa is at war! If religious fanatics take control of Kano/Kaduna in Nigeria, the next day’s news caption will run: "AFRICA IN CRISES AGAIN!" A man from one African country runs amok in Reperbahn Hamburg; the caption runs: "Afrikaner Amok gelaufen" ("An African runs amok"). The only news from Africa that is newsworthy must be embezzlement of funds, Ebola virus, AIDS, cataclysm, hunger and starvation.

Why should news and images of Africa in the mass media always be images of suffering and catastrophe? Why must every African media-picture be images of misery? Why must African news always be treated holistically?

In African countries news managers do not just caption stories: "Europe a Continent under fire" because there is a crisis in Bosnia or as a result of trouble fomented by the IRA in Ireland or chaos in Spain from the ETA groups. In view of all odds it has gone through including the Black Holocaust. I think it is time we start researching for the other faces of Africa that has always been left undiscovered. I think it is time we honor Africa and give Africa and her Children the place they deserve, rather than this deluge of woes.

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