“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” — Malcolm X
In a recent conversation with one of my American friends, I mentioned that 7 out the 10 fastest growing economies are in Africa. He was struck with wonderment and incredulity that something good could be associated with Africa. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated experience’ there’s a profound ignorance in the west about the state of the African continent. I remember a couple of years ago, Sarah Palin, the presidential running mate of Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, referred to the African continent as a country. It’s a shame that someone of that caliber, who’s half feet away from the presidency of the United States can display an unpardonable lack of knowledgeability of Africa.
Many westerners believe that Africa is synonymous with poverty, hunger and endless war. In fact, some think that it’s safe to conclude that Africa can be used interchangeably with lack of human dignity. Unfortunately, our identity as Africans as a race of people has long been defined for us by the western media – all that most people see on the television screen are images of African suffering, hopelessness and helplessness. But the question is, with all the technological advancements in the West, how come those in the remotest part of Africa seem to be more well versed in the affairs of the world than people in America?
The only possible answer that crosses my mind is the total reliance on the corporate media for information. The negative depiction of Africa in the West is legendary, to the extent that even some African-American have been brainwashed into believing the negative narrative of their motherland. No doubt hunger, poverty, economic neglect and social misery remain the portion of the everyday people in Africa, which is equally true of hoi polloi in America as well as other western countries. Yes, there are internecine wars in Africa but it bothers me how people only see warring African countries without asking the question why? By being Socratic, you will begin to unearth some uncomfortable truths that these communal wars are mere symptoms/effects of a bigger problem whose root causes are in the West.
However, western media’s focus on the worst of Africa is very strategic. For starters, it is intended to permanentize the prevailing negative imagery of Africa, and also uphold the white savior narrative which suggests Africans are unable to be in charge of their own destiny and so, they need someone white to come and save them (or colonize them). As such, whenever the worst of Africa is covered to reinforce African helplessness, there’s always on the scene white messianic figures with salvific powers to rescue Africans from self-destruct. Such was the case with the Ebola crisis. During this epidemic which killed thousands of people in West Africa, white people were lauded as heroes in the media. They were the ones the world paid attention for their acts of bravery and sacrifice. Yet the African people themselves, people like Maseray Kamara who lost both her husband and sister to the disease and after recovering from it herself laid down her life day in and day out to rescue others, were virtually ignored – they are the latest victims of western media amnesia!
It is a known fact that the western corporate media has no genuine interest in alleviating the situation of the African people but mainly concerned with transforming horrendous horrors into poverty porn and disaster porn for the consumption of the American people. The inaccurate depiction of Africa has been commodified for entertainment purposes!
The neglect of Akon’s solar initiative, aimed at restoring the dignity of about 600 million Africans, by the western media is a testament to the fact that it is an extension of white supremacist ideology. Had this project been implemented by a white person, the media coverage would have exploded! Yet, since this value adding project springs out of the imagination of a black man, it has been greeted with venomous media silence.
Akon’s project confirms the rise of Africapitalism in the continent of Africa where Africans themselves are creating goods and services that are generating wealth in their economy. They themselves are creating jobs. They themselves are conceptualizing and implementing the solutions to their own problems! The truth of the matter is that Africans have always been the heroes in our own stories – it is time for Western media to not only pay attention but give the credit where it is due!