IS AFRICA’S NEGATIVE IMAGE JUSTIFIED? ELEVEN VIEW POINTS AND MY TAKE


THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY FEMI ADEWUNMI, MY TAKE ON THE ARTICLE ARE IN CAPS. WHAT SAY YOU?

 

The international media is often criticised for only reporting on the negatives of Africa, with stories focusing on poverty, famine, war and corruption. Is the media biased? Or is the way that Africa is being portrayed a true reflection of what is happening on the ground? During a recent BBC debate, Africa’s global image: Justified or prejudiced?, held in Uganda’s capital Kampala, various government officials, business leaders, journalists and bloggers, shared their thoughts on this matter. Here are eleven of the most thought-provoking opinions that emerged:

A recent cover of The Economist magazine.

1. A journalist and analyst based in Kampala said that in order for African governments to receive foreign aid, the continent needs to be seen as a place of hardship. “Bad governments essentially need a bad image to go begging in the west. And the west essentially promotes that relationship.”

  • THE BAD AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS FOUND A WAY TO GET MORE FUNDING FOR THEIR CORRUPT ENDEAVORS, IF POVERTY, DISEASE,  FAMINE AND WAR GETS MORE MONEY WHY NOT?? BUT LET US NOT FORGET THE ROLE NGOs PLAY, THEY SPLASH IMAGES OF POVERTY AND WAR IN WESTERN MEDIA TO ATTRACT FUNDING FOR THEIR ORGANIZATIONS. THAT IS ALL THE WESTERN PEOPLE KNOW AND THAT IS WHAT THEY BELIEVE TO BE THE TRUTH.

2. Thebe Ikalafeng is managing director of the Brand Leadership Group. “Last year, Jay Naidoo [a former minister in Nelson Mandela’s cabinet] spoke at the Brand Africa Forum. He said: ‘China has got an agenda in Africa. America has got an agenda in Africa. All of Europe has got an agenda in Africa. Only Africa doesn’t have an agenda for Africa.’ The big issue that we are actually facing here is that Africans themselves are not driving their own agenda … What we need to do [is] we need to stop blaming, we need to stop begging, and we need to stop borrowing. We need to be self-resourceful because we’ve got the wealth of the continent in our hands and under our control,” he said.

“You are beginning to see the citizens of Africa becoming very vocal. They are no longer willing to be held ransom, not only by their own governments, but also by nobody else in the world,” Ikalafeng added.

  • FOR AFRICANS TO TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR OWN DESTINY, THEY MUST FIRST THINK OF THEMSELVES AS AFRICANS….THE PEOPLE OF AFRICA THINK ALONG TRIBAL LINES. TAKE KENYA AS AN EXAMPLE, THE KIKUYUS CARE FOR KIKUYUS, LUOS THINK ABOUT LUOS, MAASAI THINK ABOUT MAASAI ETC. OUR LEADERS KNOW THIS AND THEY USE THIS TO DIVIDE AND CONQUER, WHILE WE ARE BUSY FIGHTING AMONGST OURSELVES, THE NEEDS OF THE COUNTRY ARE NOT MET, WE NEVER HAVE TIME FOR A KENYAN AGENDA….HENCE AFRICAN AGENDA.

3. One participant said that “the image of Africa as it is, is correct … It is true that there is famine. It is true that there is poverty, there is war. All those are true. But let’s talk about Brazil, for example. Brazil is poor. There is prostitution. There is horror. There are drugs. But what is the image of Brazil in the world? The image of Brazil in the world is the image of a country that is successful, that is progressive, that is exciting … The Brazilians themselves have taken the agenda in their own hands to promote it. In Africa … we have abdicated our responsibility to drive our own image …”

  • I THINK THAT AFRICAN NEGATIVES FAR OUT WEIGH THE POSITIVES, AND AS AFRICANS WE KEEP SHOOTING OURSELVES IN OUR FEET.  EXAMPLE WHEN WE HAVE GOOD HARVESTS, OUR GOVERNMENTS NEVER HAVE THE VISION TO SAVE THE EXCESS FOR THAT TIME WHEN THE RAINS FAIL, OR TAKE KENYAN ROADS FOR EXAMPLE, EVERY DECEMBER HOLIDAYS, ATLEAST 100 PEOPLE WILL DIE DUE TO PREVENTABLE ACCIDENTS, YET THE GOVERNMENT NEVER TAKES STEPS TO PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING, AND SO MANY OTHER PREVENTABLE PROBLEMS THAT WE FACE.

4. “The only way [Africa’s negative image] is going to change is if we bring in a revisionist history … For example, there is Prof Ivan Van Sertima who asserts that Africans went to the south America’s thousands of years before Christopher Columbus … If this kind of information is made available in schools [and] in universities, then it will stop this slave mentality that we were brought up with that we have to go and beg because we are somewhat less, deficient and lacking. And then, once we project that ourselves, then the outside … will actually come to look at us with respect,” said another participant.

 

  • WITH BETTER MANAGEMENT OF OUR RESOURCES, WE WILL NEVER HAVE TO BEG. THE RESOURCES WE HAVE THOUGH HAVE BECOME MORE OF A CURSE THAN A BLESSING

5. The presenter asked a foreign journalist how difficult it is to pitch a good news story about Africa to editors and producers in Europe and the US?

“This might surprise people, but my experience so far is that it is not too difficult. The paradox is because a lot people have this image of Africa being ridden by disease, poverty, corruption … when you say, ‘listen there is a story about huge supermarkets, there is a story about M-Pesa, there is a story about Forbesmagazine Africa coming out’. They all say, ‘Hey, that is new to us. We didn’t know that, so we are actually interested’,” he responded.

 

  • CHINA DESPITE BEING THE ECONOMIC SUCCESS AND GIANT IT HAS BECOME, STILL SUFFERS FROM THE IMAGE OF PEOPLE IN BICYCLES, OVER POPULATED AND POOR. IT TAKES TIME TO HAVE PEOPLE CHANGE THEIR IMAGE OF YOU, ESPECIALLY FROM NEGATIVE TO POSITIVE. THE REVERSE IS MUCH FASTER.

6. “China, India, Malaysia [and] Korea do not see Africa as a basket case. They see it as an investment opportunity,” said a British journalist.

 

  • WE NEED LEADERS WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT AFTER THE ASIAN TIGERS, THE AFRICAN LIONS NOW SHOULD CLAIM THEIR STAKE IN WORLD ECONOMIES.

7. Robert Kabushenga, CEO of Uganda’s Vision media group, said “there is an increasing decline of the so-called western media and their influence in Africa. A lot of local media houses are emerging that can tell the narrative of the African situation far more effectively than the international media will ever do … In about five to seven years the international media will become completely irrelevant. And that is why you got that reaction to Kony 2012, because it was in complete contrast to the situation on the ground. And the people who went against it were not even the traditional ones – it wasn’t the army, it wasn’t the government. It was the bloggers who said, ‘This is not correct’. Finally there is a process in the media in Africa that is beginning to reverse these perceptions. Very soon we will have our own infrastructure that tells the story differently.”

 

  • THE INTERNET HAS GIVEN NEW AVENUES AND MEANS OF TELLING THE AFRICAN STORY AND WE DO NOT NEED THE WESTERN MEDIA TO DICTATE OUR STORY

8. “We need to ask ourselves, is there anywhere in south-east Asia where they are sitting down debating as to what the western world thinks of them? No, they are busy making money and doing things. So maybe we should just get out of here and go out and work hard and stop talking about ourselves, and our image will improve,” commented David Mpanga, a lawyer for Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye.

 

  • THIS IS THE BEST RESPONSE…..I SEE A DECLINING WEST, AND THEIR VIEW OF AFRICA WILL NOT MATTER AS TIME GOES BY

9. A Kampala-based advocate noted that “the African elite are the ones misrepresenting the image of Africa … It is only in Africa where you have military dictators teaching democracy. It is only in Africa where you have law enforcers ignorant of the law. It is only in Africa where you have poachers appointed as game rangers … Africa’s problem is the leadership. The leadership question needs to be answered in Africa, and the correct image of Africa will be projected.”

  • AFRICAN LEADERSHIP IS SO FAR BEHIND, AND NOT IN TOUCH WITH THE REALITY THAT AFRICAN CITIZENRY IS READY TO COMPETE WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD ON THE SAME LEVEL. THESE LEADERS WERE THERE WHEN THE COLONIALISTS WERE IN CHARGE! WE NEED A CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP TO TAKE US INTO THE FUTURE.

 

10. [Africa] is changing, but it is not starting from this ground zero that people seem to think. There is this very recurrent theme in the western media of ‘Africa rising’, ‘Africa the new frontier’. That headline seems to recur every year. In a way that marginalises Africa even more, because it is not actually looking at what is happening all the time on the ground … It is always: ‘Africa the new place’ …” noted an Uganda-based investment advisor.

  • AFRICA REALLY IS COMING UP FAST, THERE ARE HOWEVER THINGS WE CAN DO TO ENSURE EVEN FASTER GROWTH, LIKE BETTER GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT OF OUR RESOURCES. WE ALSO NEED TO DEMAND PROFESSIONALISM IN OUR BUSINESS UNDERTAKINGS, ENSURE THE RULE OF LAW SO THAT INVESTORS FEEL MORE POSITIVE ABOUT PUTTING THEIR MONEY IN AFRICA

11. “The trend of stereotyping Africa as one homogeneous nation has damaged the reputation of countries that are really doing well,” said a representative of multinational drinks company Diageo.

  • I BELIEVE THERE IS POWER IN NUMBERS, ITS EASIER TO NEGOTIATE AS AFRICA THAN AS A COUNTRY SAY KENYA. THE LARGEST ECONOMIES ALSO HAPPEN TO BE THE LARGEST COUNTRIES US, CHINA, BRAZIL, INDIA, RUSSIA. AFRICA HAS TO BE A UNIT TO COMPETE.
 
 

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “IS AFRICA’S NEGATIVE IMAGE JUSTIFIED? ELEVEN VIEW POINTS AND MY TAKE

  1. I almost nevеr leave a respoոse, howeѵer I looκed аt a ɡгeat deal of comments here IS
    AFRICAS NEGATIVE IMΑGE JUSTIFIED? ELEѴEN VIEW POINTS AND MY TAKЕ | MAHASLAZ
    MAGAZIΝE. I do have a fеw questions for you if you
    do not mind. Iѕ it simply mme or does it seem likе a few of tɦese remarks look as if they are left by braiո dead folks?
    😛 And, if you are writing on other online social sites, I’d like to keep up with anythіng
    new yߋս have to post. Could you post a list of every one of ɑll yߋur
    social networking sites like your twitter feed, Facebook pѕge oor linkedin profile?

  2. My contribution is based on the point on how Brazil has been able to not only project a very positive image of itself as a country but emerge as an economic force among the so called Developing Nations. I think the contributor was onto something; despite all its negatives (one of the largest Slam dwellings in the World is in Rio- apart from the one on Jo’burg and of course Nairobi), Brazil has taken charge of marketing its image. African Nations and Kenya in this case has outsourced this marketing to these so-called NGOs. So why would we be surprised when they ran great marketing plans which are of course centered on the negatives to promote their “work” and raise revenue?
    However, I would also acknowledge that some of the greatest projects and essential community needs have been met by the same NGOs out in the field.

    But the big picture is that Brazil has been able to account for and better manage its resources without heavily relying on foreign aid( received an equivalent of 0.04% of its GNI in 2010 BUT gave an equivalent of 0.02 of its GNI as foreign assistance….to African countries!!!) Maybe we can borrow a leaf from this example especially for some African Nations whose foreign aid makes almost 25% of their GNI.

    The 8th point also struck a nerve with me- why do we keep on sitting down and debating what the “African” image is and how we are viewed as a continent? Just get out and hit the grind! Who cares what anybody thinks? This is very true- talk to any public figure or anyone on the public realm….one can only pay so much attention to what the public/ media says. At one point you just have to go “do you and let everyone else do them” as the saying goes-

    1. I believe that what Africa needs as a whole is a true change in leadership. For so long it has been led by those who fought for independence and while we thank them for their contribution, their ideas are not in tandem with the times. Their development agenda is stuck in the 60s. All economies that have grown have good leadership as the prerequisite for growth

      1. right on Bw. Morioz….but before we phase them out, we need a growth of true and principled younger generation. To bring this home- the 2013 Kenyan elections would have been a ripe time to usher in a new crop of leadership- Young, Visionary, Accountable, Principled, Educated/ Learned etc…but you can clearly see that we lack this. So before we kick out over 60s and 70s aged leaders with their colonial mentalities….we the “leaders of tomorrow” need to step up to the plate-

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s