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The Africa You Need to Know

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Posted on Nov 28, 2006
kids playing
AP Photo / Denis Farrell

Children play in a Soweto street.

By Gbemisola Olujobi

(Page 2)

Facts are sacred and the truth must be told. Despite generous human and natural endowments, Africa is home to 32 of the 38 highly indebted countries of the world and remains the only continent where the proportion of the population in extreme poverty is growing. Thirty-six and two-tenths percent of Africans live on less than a dollar a day. Most African countries are at the bottom of the United Nations’ overall human development index, which also measures education, life expectancy, gross domestic product and other indicators of development. The overwhelming majority of African countries are not on target to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals agreed upon at the United Nations in 2000. Sad, but all true.

But those who make a living out of showing Africa’s soiled behind to the world should also be fair enough to show her fair side.  Ignoring one side of the story means readers and viewers are getting only half of the story.  And half-truth, as the saying goes, is half-lie.  To bring it home, it is like saying all there is to America is Hurricane Katrina, Skid Row, the Oklahoma City bombing, congressmen and congressional pagers, serial killers, child molesters and snipers. It is like airing only “American Justice,”  “America’s Most Wanted,”  “Dark Heart: Iron Hand,”  “Lock-Up,” “Skeleton Stories” and “To Catch a Predator” in Africa and implying somehow that this is America. Yes, bad things happen everywhere, not only in Africa!

Carol Pineau highlights this lopsidedness in the documentary “Africa Open for Business”:  “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.”

Ezekiel Makunike addresses the same concerns in “Out of Africa: Western Media Stereotypes Shape Images.” “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.”

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The TransAfrica Forum, a body which aims to influence U.S. policy on Africa and the diaspora, surveyed two of the most esteemed newspapers in the United States—The New York Times and The Washington Post—between March and August 2000. Its study showed that the vast majority of news stories fell within only three categories—AIDS, development and conflict. The study found no reports on regional economic or political cooperation in Africa, nor one article on the private sector.

The study concluded that “one would have expected the New York Times and the Washington Post to make an effort to inform American citizens and policymakers in a much more balanced, detailed, and fair manner. Failure to address this issue will contribute to an increase in Afro-pessimism in America.”

The 2005 study by Boston University of Africa news coverage also revealed nothing about fewer civil wars, economic growth or increased access to education on the continent. Disasters in Somalia, Rwanda and West Africa dominated, while transitions to democracy in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and elsewhere were ignored.

Also grievously ignored by the Western media is the fact that a good number of African countries have made real progress over the last few years. In 2005 alone, Africa posted an unprecedented growth of 4.5 percent, which prompted Haiko Alfeld, Africa director at the World Economic Forum, to declare that the African continent has “emphatically and irreversibly turned the corner.”

In its review of 2005, a year widely acclaimed as “The Year of Africa,” the World Economic Forum reports “a new resolve [by Africans] to promote the African business and investment climate. Many African countries extended economic reforms and put in place structures to fight corruption.” Really? Will someone please tell the whole world that Africans are capable of helping themselves, and that they are not helpless, hapless and hopeless?

The report goes on to say: “A key development on the business front was the rapid increase in Chinese and to some extent Indian investment in African countries. In just a few years, trade and investment between China and Africa has tripled, with the pace of such engagement becoming particularly vigorous during 2005.

“The trend has continued into 2006, as has the phenomenon of South African business expansion into the continent.”  And what is more, the report says, “These positive trends seem set to continue beyond 2006, given their long-term nature.” Is anyone listening?

Africa indeed has turned the corner. In the last five years, Mozambique has reduced its poverty level from 70 percent to 55 percent and has doubled the number of its children in school. Kenya has introduced free primary education, which has brought 1.2 million children back into school there. In Tanzania, 1,000 new schools have been built and 18,000 teachers recruited to enable the nation to achieve the goal of primary education for all in 2006—nine years before the target date of 2015.

Uganda has reduced HIV from 20 percent in 1991 to about 6.5 percent in 2001, showing that with political will, the tide of an epidemic can be turned. In 1973, only three African heads of state were elected.  Today, 40 countries have had multiparty elections. Two years ago major conflicts affected 19 countries in Africa.  Today they affect only three countries.

The World Bank reports that countries like Senegal, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Uganda and Ghana are on course to meet the target of halving poverty by 2010—five years ahead of schedule. Botswana, with soaring literacy rates, has doubled, some say tripled, its school enrollment figures. South Africa boasts of sustained economic growth. Rwanda has the highest number of women in parliament in the whole world. Even war-torn Liberia achieved the distinction of putting the first elected African female head of state into the global club of female heads of government.

These giant strides are, however, lost in what has been described as “disaster pornography,” a disturbing trend in Western media tradition, which tallies with Ezekiel Makunike’s assertion that “for American readers or viewers to be interested, news out of Africa must be negative. It must conform to the traditional stereotypes in its spotlight on grotesque and sensational events. It must show misery, corruption, mismanagement, starvation, primitive surroundings and, as in the case of Somalia, chaos and outright anarchy.”

Rakiya Omaar and Alex de Waal in “Disaster Pornography From Somalia” tell of “pictures of grotesque human degradation, with foreign angels of mercy ministering to starving children, juxtaposed with images of trigger-happy teen-age looters.”

Putting an indelible question mark on disaster journalism, they say, “Reduced to nameless extras in the shadows behind Western aid workers or disaster tourists, the grieving, hurting and humiliated human beings are not asked if they want to be portrayed in this degrading way.” Has anyone ever considered this?

They also reveal that “Somali doctors and nurses have expressed shock at the conduct of film crews in hospitals. They rush through crowded corridors, leaping over stretchers, dashing to film the agony before it passes. They hold bedside vigils to record the moment of death. When the Italian actress Sophia Loren visited Somalia, the paparazzi trampled on children as they scrambled to film her feeding a little girl—three times. This is disaster pornography.”

Richard Ngamba, in “Reporting Africa in Western Media Style,” also relates an interesting experience that he had while collaborating with some Western journalists during the filming of the documentary “Darwin Nightmare” in Mwanza City, on the southern shores of Lake Victoria. He says: “... in the documentary, it is claimed that the presence of the fishing industry has caused the outbreak of street children in Mwanza, with most of them eating packing materials used by fish processors to pack their fillets, because they can’t afford to buy fish.

“Yes, in this documentary you can see street children gathered at Kamanga ferry area in Mwanza, trying to cook their food with their faces showing sorrow and grief, but this is a fiction which was directed and paid for by the authors of this documentary.

“The facts is that all street children seen in this film cooking food were paid between Tshs 1000/- and Tshs 5000/- by the producers of the film and then directed to do what they are doing, paving the way for my guests to film what they then termed ‘striking images.’ ”

Strange and disturbing revelations indeed! Are these “striking images” of disaster actually man-made “pseudo-events,” planned, contrived, concocted and synthesized for believability? Daniel Boorstin describes pseudo-events as “more vivid, more attractive, more impressive, and more persuasive than reality itself.”

So what is the cost of these attractive, impressive, persuasive, enticing and highly believable “pseudo-events” to Africa?

Wilson Rutayisire, post-genocide director of Rwanda Information Services, says “the way Africa is covered in the international media is not only charged with a partisan view but also responsible, to no small measure, for the perpetuation of prejudices that exacerbate Africa’s problems.

“Although the media coverage Africa receives is not the principal cause of the problems Africa faces, it provides the superstructure within which Africa is perceived and foreign policies on Africa are prescribed.”

According to Carol Pineau, it “comes at a high cost, even ... the cost of lives.  Stories about hardship and tragedy aim to tug at our heartstrings, getting us to dig into our pockets or urge Congress to send more aid.  But no country or region ever developed thanks to aid alone.  Investment, and the job and wealth creation it generates is the only road to lasting development.  That is how China, India and the Asian tigers did it. 

“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 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 U.S. 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.”

Related Articles:

Gleneagles Background and History: “Africa—Some Key Facts”

World Economic Forum on Africa: “The Year of Africa in Review”

G.V. Kromah: “Africa in the Western Media: Cycle of Contra-Positives and Selective Perceptions”

David Whitehouse: “Genetic Study Roots Humans in Africa”

Tim Stoddard: “African Statesmen: Western Media Should Look at Continent’s Bright Side”

Thabo Mbeki: “Who Will Define Africa?”

Chris Thomson:  “Only Bad News From Africa”

Mugo Njeru: “Africa at Large: Media Challenged to Correct Negative Image of Africa”

Abraham McLaughlin: “Africans Ask: ‘Why Isn’t Anyone Telling the Good News?’”


New and Improved Comments

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By Rob, August 5, 2007 at 9:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with LTJ and Edwin. Africa’s magnificence, pride and hearty nature are downplayed, but to simply ignore the problems they have there like tribalistic politics, civil wars that ruin progress, rampant famine and crime and say “The mean ol’ West is making Africa out to be a continent of death and suffering, but that’s not true” is not helping.

And though LTJ has pointed out that European colonial powers share some of the blame for the state Africa is in, this should not say that native Africans themselves are let off the hook. Sometimes people are their own worst enemy. Africa must abandon its tribal ways and embrace the 21st century.

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By tj, July 17, 2007 at 7:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

many in our media elite think that by exposing only the evil or degrading things of a culture will help expose those who are to blame. once blame is assigned, we can all feel sorry for the victims. but the problems never seem to go away. perhaps we should try being more positive in the media , then people wont feel so hopeless and helpless.

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By Nasir, March 30, 2007 at 9:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

.....Fulani, Ganda, Yoruba, Hausa, Kikuyu, Luba, Lunda, Malinke, Moor, Nuer, Tuareg and Xhosa.”-

Point of correction,you state that Xhoza is one of the most widely popular ethnic group,along side the Bantu.In fact,Xhosaz are the Bantu people,being the Ngunis,together with Sothos,and Vendas in South Africa,are the ethnic groups classified as Bantu!

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By LTJ, March 4, 2007 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Africa: What a round-about opportunity for Judith Gordon to raise what must be her favorite topic.

Judith Gordon (Canada) writes on 3/03:
“...yet another article maligning Israel and glorifying, justifying and excusing terrorism flashs across the csreen.[sic]”

Really?  Where would one locate this article-flashing screen?  I suspect that it exists only in the writer’s imagination.

BTW, would Ms Gordon include in her definition of terrorism that infamous incident with the King David Hotel bombing in 1946 and a young Zionist named Menachem Begin?

Was Begin really at #1 on a British most wanted list for Terrorists in the late 1940’s?  A Jewish version of Osama bin Laden?  Couldn’t be the same guy as the Israeli PM in the 1970’s ....could it?

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By jangay nya, March 3, 2007 at 6:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

thanks for this great and fact filled article !!  it is so easy for people to believe the hype of the media regarding africa which is usually portrayed as the “dark continent”. it is always a good thing when people ask questions, even the stupid and offensive ones. ideally, it means they are open to a different and more informed perspective.  i would be concerned if people were not curious enough to notice differences in their ill-informed opinions worth questioning.  even if they don’t fully accept the new infomation or if they justify it as the “exception and not the norm” of their biased perceptions, they have been educated.

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By Judith Gordon, March 3, 2007 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fascinating article. I follow the news coming out of the Middle East and just when I think I can’t be anymore astonished, yet another article maligning Israel and glorifying, justifying and excusing terrorism flashs across the csreen. Since I know how horriobly distorted the media’s veiws of Israel are, why should I be surprized to hear that the depeictions of Africa are equally distorted? Actually I am not shocked. I am delighted, for Africa!
Judith Gordon-Canada

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By Mac Kabbo Jibba, March 2, 2007 at 9:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is very unfortunate that the western media could think and refer to our beloved continent the way they do.In fact my perception about the western world is so blunt that I always take them to be devils.
Devils because they were and are responsible for our calamities.Europe greatly underdevelopped Africa and what I expect them to do is to atone for the evil that they committeed against our great grand parents,the ugly benefits which we are reaping today.They are like that today because our ancestors worked for them.If they want to know mor about Africa, the way is open.Let them come and do research and get a positive result rather than relying of what few disgruntled souls narrate to them for the sake of survival.
If the west feels Africa is portrayed the way it is in the media,then they have more days to learn.All I know is that the white man is greatly jealous about this continent and would never like to see it united.Instead,they smuggle our minerals and in return send arms and ammunitions to kill ourselves.

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By Dr. Eluemuno Blyden, March 1, 2007 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The level of response to this article underlines the importance of this topic.  Frankly, it is one that needs to reach the UN—viz. in a globally connected world in which a nation’s media image can mean the difference between life-enhancing trade, investment and socio-economic attractiveness for young people and death: should Hollywood, Nolliwood or Bolliwood and others with the resources to manipulate perceptions on a planet-wide scale be held accountable for the impact of their productions? Perhaps we need an international court case on the issue. I have in mind the impact of a film like “Blood Diamond” on all the hard work Sierra Leoneans and their international helpers have done to rebuild a peaceful country that can attract investment. Today, a powerful picture of the country that is nearly 10 years old is the primary reference in the popular media about the country.

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By Michael Abiodun, December 21, 2006 at 6:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks very much for this piece of art.  You hit the nail right on the head.  As a matter of fact I was researching a topic “World perception of Africa as a jungle”, then pop up your article.  Very interesting in deed and very well done. When I came to US about 30 years ago, every media piece you see of Africa Continent was always in black and white influencing the people’s thought about Africa as still backward and still living in the stone age.

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By R. A. Earl, December 3, 2006 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In #40389, Olu wrote, in part “...it’s socially unaceptable to parade African women and children from the congos nude on television.”

To do so only to feed a prurient interest that some may have in viewing other people’s erogenous zones, I agree. Many immature people just can’t get their eyes off the private parts, nor their minds out of the gutter.

However, NUDITY is not what is socially unacceptable in my view. Personally I wear clothing only to keep from freezing, burning to a crisp, or being scratched to a bleeding pulp as I hike the forested hills and valleys. Well, OK, I also do so out of deference to the sensibilities of others… why offend or scare the hell out of people when you don’t have to?

But to go naturally naked in temperate climes, where protection from the elements is unnecessary, is completely NORMAL behavior. To cover up for any other reason is UNNATURAL and SILLY. If someone “out of Africa” is too immature to look at a naked person without tittering like a schoolgirl or having a hissy fit of false moralistic modesty, let the problem remain THEIRS!

BTW, when I refer to nudity, I mean NUDE EQUALITY… men, women and children. Men are the biggest prudes when it comes to “covering up.” I guess they resent being valued, ranked and judged by the size of their equipment when “parked.” Perhaps if men were forced to experience that kind of discrimination, there’d be a lot less of the nonsense that surrounds the judging of women by the size of their breasts.

So, Olu, let’s just leave Africans to live as they wish to. If they don’t mind their photographic images being broadcast to immature non-Africans, that tells me clearly that the problem lies entirely with the non-Africans.

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By DeeinBig D, December 1, 2006 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for this wonderful article. Apparently, I need to know more about Africa. My meager knowledge only hinted at the richly colorful existance there.
Know that you have inspired me to find reading material to explore Africa. I look forward to it. Thank you again!

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By Olu Osunsanmi, December 1, 2006 at 8:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The western media are forced to provide shocking news inorder to burst their publications rating for increased revenue. However, some of the report from Africa are mostly negative, the continent’s leadership or concern citizens need to let the world understand that it’s socially unaceptable to parade African women and children from the congos nude on television.

This tribal people are happy in their little world, they are not subhuman and would likely rejected the fact that they are been seen all over the world naked. This kind of dehumnization need to be rejected forcefully it’s against the law to show nudity on the television here in united state, why is no-one denouncing the History Channel, TLC and Discovery channel for revealling naked Africans on television. In fact Opera Winfrey has some financial stake in these cable media. Why can she see that there is something wrong with that depiction. In the turn of the 19th century the same people trying to provide entertainment brought African man into captivity in the New York Zoo. It takes a Presidential Election to change that evil idea.

There are plenty of cultures in Africa, if they really want to help us as a nation spread Afrian actistic powess and not exploiting innnocent Africans.

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By LucysGranddaughter, November 30, 2006 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The media does cover bad news over good, granted. Still, it does seem like Africa is singled out over other continents that also have disease and poverty. I wonder if it might be because the west is interested in the AIDS epidemic, and Africa, or parts of Africa, have the worst HIV/AIDS rates?

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By Dan Burke, November 30, 2006 at 10:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think it is great to stress the positive aspects of this huge and diverse continent.

It is also important for each of us to address the violence that is taking place in some parts of Africa.

The on going viilence in Darfur has been called the first genocide of the 21st century. Please visit http://darfurwall.org to join with thousands of others in speaking out.

The Darfur Wall project provides a quick, effective way to add your voice to the thousands of people who want to make a difference.

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By Roberto Paul, November 30, 2006 at 9:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is not an “African” problem.  It simply reflects the atraction that most people have for reports about the pain, suffering and different behaviors of others.  The media is designed to garner viewers and the news media is influenced by this phenomena. It is a human phenomena.

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By LTJ, November 30, 2006 at 3:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The author glosses over the fact that Africa is the poorest region in the world, and getting poorer.  No doubt that the mainstream American media is focused on epic disasters and tragedies -often shown in distorted ways.  However, that still does not mean that Africa is not in relatively bad shape.  Clearly, and by almost every objective, international measure of progress, Africa is now in very bad shape, and getting worse.  It is the only major region of the world that is persistently IN DECLINE.

Of course there was great promise for many African nations in the 1960’s - with the gradual end of colonial rule and the influx of new Western money and interest.  But, for reasons still unclear, the 1960’s are starting to look like something of a high-point for African progress in our time.

Oddly, the author claims that Africa contributes to “world order” by having provided “slave labor” to the West (past tense) and by currently serving as an excellent source of valuable metals and minerals to the worlds industries (typically extracted by outside contractors, coming in from the European world).  What could possibly be a more typically “colonial” role than providing slave labor and raw materials for the use of ruling nations?  Much more impressive in my view would be African inventors and Nobel Prize winners in the areas of science and technology.  Certainly there is a well-educated elite in Africa.  And, Africans are still working out the full (beyond colonial) history of Africa and its people.  Personally, I don’t doubt the legendary beauty of the land, the people and the culture of Africa.  But, there’s not nearly as much to admire in the more mundane, yet essential, areas of communications and transport infrastructure, public health,  literacy, modern agricultural efficiency, information technology and effective government.

I should add that some part of all this can be blamed on the European colonial powers, who generally acted as selfish, cruel and terrible tyrants in Africa - perhaps some colonizers being worse (Belgium?)  than others (France).  However, it’s also instructive to note that it was the Europeans (not the Africans) who built the sea-worthy ships and risked all to explore, document (and exploit) all of the valuable, vulnerable, unknown places in the world.  If instead, a group of Africans (or Japanese or Mayans) had explored the wider world first, it might be a far different world we live in today (...perhaps better? ...perhaps worse?).

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By Tsega, November 29, 2006 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Intersting article. I am working as a case manager in on of the top job search net work in Melbourne Australia. One day an African client came to apply a Job and my boss telling me to look after him, then after I talk to him my boss call me and ask me why you do not talk to him with your language I said to her I can’t speak his language she said how come you guys came from the same country and have different language, I said to her Africa is one big continent not country. She ask me again why you guys have different skin tone any way she ask me a lot thing on and on and I explained every thing as much as I can. My point is most western society they didn’t know world history and geography. They only know and believe it what is on the media.   

Thanks for your deep exploration. We need the people like you.

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By Tsega, November 29, 2006 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am working as a case manager in on of the top job search net work in Melbourne Australia. One day an African client came to apply a Job and my boss telling me to look after him, then after I talk to him my boss call me and ask me why you do not talk to him with your language I said to her I can’t speak his language she said how come you guys came from the same country and have different language, I said to her Africa is one big continent not country. She ask me again why you guys have different skin tone any way she ask me a lot thing on and on and I explained every thing as much as I can. My point is most western society they didn’t know world history and geography. They only know and believe it what is on the media.   

Thanks for your deep exploration. We need the people like you.

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By Pamela, November 29, 2006 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you, thank you! Having lived in Zambia for many years as an American white, I can tell you first hand that, yes, there is poverty, but more obvious is the staggering beauty of the land, the gentleness and selfless generosity of its people, and the fact that once one “tastes” Africa, it gets in your blood. My heart will always be there. Don’t listen to the muddied, crooked media. Death and disaster sell; the normal day-to-day life of most Africans wouldn’t.

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By Roger Drowne EC, November 29, 2006 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

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By DOC, November 29, 2006 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes Africa is a contenient named so by a map maker, not unlike America; yet we have been tought to see Africa as one, while the American contenient is America. Canada, Mexico, and the many central and south American countries are excluded, from the title America. I will show your article to the many “African students here [Eastern Oregon U] In hopes that it will help them educate others on the fact that they come from a country, that is unique, as we all are. Peace be C you

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By Petsounds, November 29, 2006 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What an excellent piece! I hope it receives a lot of attention, and that you are asked to speak about this issue on TV, radio—everywhere!

For many years I have wanted to visit Botswana, but most people look terrified and ask why I would want to go to such a dangerous place! Excuse me? Since when is Botswana dangerous???

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By Lili, November 29, 2006 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sad, but true, but, as stated above, we are all victims of the same kind of “pornography”.  I was born in Argentina of Irish Italian heritage.  I am called a “latino”, a “hispanic”, or some other such misnomer.  I am told I “don’t look Spanish”  (what does Spanish look like, i wonder!).  I am asked how could you be Irish and be from Argentina?  My answer:  how could YOU be Irish and be from the United States?  So many people have no idea where Argentina is, and what language is spoken there!  So many people look at “south of the border” and see it all as one big blob.  And yet, each country South of the Border has its own unique traditions, culture, history and economy.  The answer:  Education, education, education!  And, my advise to Africa?  Ignore US ignorance and ally yourselves with China!

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By MARIAM RUSSELL, November 29, 2006 at 11:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How successful if the restoration of the Timbuktu Manuscripts and when will we see some publication of their contents? Before we see the Dead Sea Scrolls, I hope.

You did not mention the great University of Timbuktu…..one of the oldest in the world, I believe.

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By Edwin, November 29, 2006 at 11:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sounds like Bush talking about Iraq.

Nothing is as utterly awful as the media portrays or as utterly splendid as articles like this portray.

Why is a balanced view so difficult to find these days?

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By Rodolfo Vassaux, November 29, 2006 at 10:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Living in another so called “third world country”, Guatemala, I totally understand the sentiments of the writer.

Congratulations


R.Vassaux

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By WCG, November 29, 2006 at 8:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Interesting article. But it’s not just Africa, you know. In most of the media, bad news is news and good news is ignored. You don’t get headlines when a country is at peace, when people are doing well, when life is good. It’s war, hunger, crime that dominate the news ... and not just in Africa. In America, I’ve heard that we who watch the news regularly tend to have an exaggerated fear of crime. I’ve talked to non-Americans who seem to think that gun violence is everywhere. Maybe, but in 55 years, I’ve never been a victim of ANY crime. Then again, I live in Nebraska, and we’re convinced - from the media, of course - that we’d be taking our lives in our hands by visiting New York. Heh, heh. So no, it’s not Africa, it’s just the nature of the media. And it’s human nature to be drawn to such stories. I’m glad to see there are good things going on, too, but those things will probably never make the headlines.

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By peteralbertson@verizon.net, November 29, 2006 at 6:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A marvelous piece that opened my eyes, made me angry, made me sad, made me hopeful. Find more from this FINE writer.

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By ayyub Fanta (Ethiopian), November 29, 2006 at 1:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for your deep exploration. We need the people like you, who can liberate Africans from westerns economical colonialism. You are right we have every thing but we didn’t worked together. The sun will rise very soon. One day we will walk hand in hand together on developed Africa with our well managed and mutually respected culture.
Thank you!

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By Solomon, November 29, 2006 at 12:10 am Link to this comment
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Having traveled to Asia and South America, I found out that extreme poverty worse than places I have seen in Africa. But the media will want you to believe that Africa is synonymous with poverty. More than 50% of the world poor live in Asia. India itself has more people in poverty that the entire population of Sub-Shara Africa. Africa has some of the fastest growing economies in the world today. Africa is far more democratic now that it was in the 1980’s. What Africa needs is Al-Jazeera Africa.

I think African countries should invest in infrastructure and build transportation to facilitate trade among countries in Africa. Add value to our commodities so we don’t get ripped off by the west.

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