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Who will speak for Africa? Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Faridah Ibrahim, Nigeria Feb 10, 2010
Globalization , Media , Technology   Opinions


In other cases, private media houses paint the picture of Africa that they want so as to promote and achieve the selfish interests of their owners. An illustration is needed for optimal understanding of this last case: Africa is the continent most plagued by Malaria, HIV/AIDS, maternal and infant mortality, infrastructural decay, among many other ills. The implication of this is that Africa is the largest market for anti-malarials, condoms, anti-retrovirals, mosquito nets, bogus loans from greedy and faceless creditors, and economy-destroying help from international ‘donor’ and ‘assisting’ agencies.

What this means is that the international community as well as millions of Africans are forced to believe many things, all as an implication of what they have seen on TV or heard on radio. These include the following: condoms are needed to save the whole of Africa from dying out thanks to HIV/AIDS, governments should subsidise and stock anti-retrovirals also for the same cause, malaria will kill every young person in Africa very soon if millions of insecticide treated mosquito nets are not bought and distributed immediately, Africa is a huge jungle full of untamed beasts and uncivilised peoples, the few ‘developed ’parts of the continent are being taken over by slums, shanty towns, and ghettos, there is no suitable environment for investment in the continent– rather, it would be more ‘appropriate’ to bring foreign aid, all African leaders are corrupt and illegally elected despots, Africans are not capable of sustaining a good democracy, cannibals live only on this continent, etc. These are only a few of the millions of cases where the outside world says what it wants its people to know or see.

Other examples make the case for an African voice: the international media always makes a show of displaying their up-to-the-minute reporting by breaking fresh news even before local news stations in Africa have gotten wind of any events, thus embarrassing the government and media of the concerned country. In other cases, these foreign media always show militants such as those of the Niger Delta destroying government as well as private property, causing mayhem, and participating in oil bunkering. However, they never show us the foreign-owned vessels which transport the oil, the intercontinental destination of the oil, and the financers of these sabotaging activities, which are usually greedy multinationals and their nationals. Africa will always be on the losing end if someone else speaks for us. It would be of utmost benefit to us to develop our own voice. In the words of Julius Nyerere, Africa must refuse to be humiliated, exploited, and pushed around.

Now to the question of how the media will change the current economic situation in most parts of the continent: when the whole world knows that there is more to Africa than slums, ghettos, and corruption, their patterns of thought will immediately change. The very first impact will be the influx of investors, and with proper economic policies and effective planning, the continent will be the better. Next is the fact that Africans in the Diaspora would be treated in a better manner and would gain more respect in their societies considering that the world would be better informed about their fatherlands.

Other impacts of having our own media include: promotion of tourism by Africans and foreigners alike; better understanding of African norms, values, and cultures by fellow Africans and by foreigners; economic and social integration between African states; better understanding of conflicts in Africa such as the situations in Darfur, Somalia, Chad, and the Niger Delta– these would occur because these conflicts would be viewed through an African perspective and there would be better knowledge of African countries, most especially by other Africans.

Perhaps the most important of these impacts is that thousands of young, intelligent and daring entrepreneurs who can be found in every part of this beautiful continent would become more confident and recognise the existing opportunities for their business ideas, enterprises, and social movements. Encouraged by their counterparts in other parts of the world, they would see Africa in a different light, and would lead the march towards making Africa a better place.

To the questions of technical know-how, language choice, location of a headquarters etc, I say it takes sheer political will among our leaders (those elected and those selected alike) to kick-start the process. It might be a gradual process, considering the prevailing conditions on the continent, but it would eventually lead to our speaking for ourselves. So, it is only Africa that can speak for itself. No other people will carry the melodious beauty and captivating resonance of the African voice but the African people. And then, the world will not be able to help but listen.

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Faridah Ibrahim

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R Kahendi | Feb 14th, 2010
This is an interesting argument. I think there's room for optimism. If a regional media network was to take shape in Africa, we wouldn't have to start completely from scratch. After all, we already have national media networks with infrastructure, trained reporters, cameramen etc. What the continent really needs is an institution that will liaison between the different nations, dealing with translation, legal issues etc. It's not impossible if national governments or those behind the media have the will. Additionally, it doesn't have to take shape in one day. It could take shape slowly in the different regions (Norh, East, South, West, Central) and gradually grow to encompass the entire continent.

we a not ready
I will speak for africa by establishing the largest news network in africa.

Kabiru Mohammed Seidu | Feb 27th, 2010
This is a very fair argument,the author took the pains to weigh both sides of the coin.I believe that Africa in the next 50 years will be the center stage of the world because, the present generation of youth are adept and resourceful not to mention the exposure that they are facing.I believe that An african media house will be just a tiny bit of what africa will have to offer in the near future.WE WILL ONE DAY ACHIEVE THE AFRICAN DREAM

Patricia Edet | Mar 2nd, 2010
I am very happy that there are still a few Africans who realize that we are still an anachronistic people, who cannot even speak for themselves, who have left others to speak for them and are still controlled by the rest of the world. We take pleasure in appreciating the Western World and have not realized that the Western World ought to in turn appreciate us. Down to the issue of an indigenous broadcasting station, Africans can make it. When you said that some countries can't afford to pay their levies to the African Union, I had this in mind that it is not because they don't have the means but they rather waste in on unimportant things like building massive houses for Government official and so on. If only African Nations can see the importance of self-expression.Change as they say starts with you and I. If everyone of us can put in our own little effort then this continent will be spoken for not only by one person but by many, in different tongues and through different media

Who will speak for Africa?
Elumelu Uche Chika | Mar 3rd, 2010
Faridah,i admire your sense of approach and strong conviction on this issue.it just goes to show how passionate you are about Africa and her concerns.Keep it up and you have my support on this.Brava!

Salisu Umar | Mar 28th, 2010
I stand to be corrected but something u should realize is that CNN isnt ownd by the American govt, Al-jazeera isnt run, sky isnt run by the british govt, i dont really know much abt the BBC. Your write-up seemed to want a state controlled media giant, probably set up by the AU (who knows?), as a student with a political background you should know state run organizations are those that bring about the frictions you mentioned. Instead the call should be made to private media houses to grow, expand and meet-up with the likes of cnn and bbc.when u take a look at channel O,its not foreign and not controlled by the SA govt, same with supersports. They're both private and pure african even though they MAY have technical partners (even cnn has technical partners). Supersports even beams all sessions of F1 live -practice, qual,main race. It takes a world class org to get a nod frm ecclestone. If these media houses were news agencies it would have been a different story so what we need is a media house -precisely news agency- to follow their steps. The only media house with the equipments and manpower to do this in africa may be nta of nigeria bt we all know its state owned so nothing can be achieved.ait might have the will bt it lacks the guts. Lets hope though that one day we'll have a 24hr news agency beamed worldwide repping africa

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