Africa, like any other place, has its problems, fears, hopes, beauty, aspirations and dreams. To put it shortly, Africa has its own story- a story that can only be told fully by Africans. This story, however, has been so grossly distorted in the past 500 years.
After a discussion of such distortions, a friend sent me his thoughts
It is always a pain to listen to the hogwash that the uninformed international media has to offer about my continent. Neatly dressed and well fed bureau chiefs and correspondents, blabbing their shamelessly stereotypical opinions concerning issues they only have half a clue about, describing ways of living that they can only imagine in their wildest dreams. I mean, what really is the purpose of standing in front of a camera with a tailor made Gucci shirt, and finely flowing hair, while the background is strewn with half dressed, malnourished and unkempt citizens?
The greatest insult however, rests not in how they dress, or their fancy equipment, but in the filth that is spewed out of their mouths and the reports that they compile on a regular basis to maintain their stations viewership and listenership.
Their egotistic assertions that this is a people not capable of fending for itself, that this continent needs all the help we can get from these developed nations, who more often than not, do not have the noblest of intentions. Their seemingly misguided approach that taking a drive through the villages during the day while going back to their fancy hotel rooms in the evening is a true example of living life on the ground is pathetic to say the least.
Have they the faintest idea how it feels to sleep in a roofless shack with the mosquitoes truly coming to the party? Having to weather the elements all your life as they go about their natural ruthlessness? Making do with disease infested water for all chores and purposes and even consumption until their digestive systems and skins have developed a permanent immunity?
Having to wake up each morning not having the faintest idea where the sustenance for that day is going to come from? For them, the $1 per day that many are surviving on in the beloved mother continent is just another one of the multiple statistics for their academics and actuaries, while for many of the skin like mine from places like mine and worse, it’s a harsh reality.
Unless and until they are willing to change their viewpoint drastically, take a more hands on approach in their conduct with the locals, be willing to go through the deprivations that the locals endure every day, then they truly, in all honesty, have no right. Their empathy can only be professional, and their sympathy only businesslike, for they know not truly what they purport to speak about.
What we need is a serious paradigm shift, starting with all these foreign media houses and how they conduct their business in Africa. What is the purpose of having an American migrate to Somalia for the purpose of relaying news about that country, when there are capable individuals residing in that country, not as foreign migrants, but as true citizens? Not having a vague outlook of the society, but, by virtue of having been part of it, and still being part of it, knowing it inside out? Is this a mockery on the intelligence of us Africans? Is it a questioning of our intellect, or an express doubt of our capability?
The smirk on my face can only be removed when, the next time I tune into Al-Jazeera, BBC World, or CNN, I see an African reporter discussing African matters. Not some American blonde or an Arabian brunette. I am not, by this statement suggesting any hatred for other ethnicities, or a disguised racist attitude, in case some of you hasten to judge me. I am only expressing an opinion, seeing as it is that each man is entitled to his. It really should baffle the mind that the Professors of African Studies at all these American Universities, have in many cases never even set foot on the beloved continent, yet they qualify themselves to form an opinion on it.
This big brother attitude and superiority complex has to stop, period. We deserve to be taken seriously by this developed world, to be given a fair pedestal on which to stand, because as long as they force us to believe they are the only ones who can help, and we are brainwashed to accept that we can’t do it on our own, then we shall never get out of this quagmire. With that fellow Africans, I rest my case.