In his book Don’t Africa Me, Nigerian-born Paschal Eze, a former newspaper editor, criticizes the media for ignoring the positive news coming out of Africa.
Marco Visscher | October 2008 issue
How do the media damage Africa’s image throughout the world?
“I’ve never seen African universities, five-star hotels, boulevards and shopping malls on television; I see only shacks and shantytowns. That’s all the news we get: poverty, instability, disease, illiteracy and corruption. It looks like nothing good is ever happening there.”
But you’re not denying Africa has a lot of problems, right?
“I know that just like any other place, Africa isn’t perfect. But isn’t it strange that when it comes to Africa, journalists choose to show only images of poverty and stagnation, but when it comes to Asia, they show images of trade and modernity? The deliberate message is simple: Pity and donate to Africa but import from and invest in Asia.”
So what news from Africa should the media report?
“Africa has growing middle and upper classes that live in urban comfort. Throughout the continent, there are good universities and factories, accomplished musicians, scientists, writers and entrepreneurs. Many of the 54 countries have average annual economic growth of more than 5 percent. Botswana has had the world’s highest economic growth rate since the 1960s. Journalists should acknowledge and inform people that some things are going right in Africa.”
And you’re afraid the focus on poverty is hurting Africa’s economy?
“Right. Because of the media, most Main Street investors don’t see a reason to put funds toward Africa. But African countries need investments, because handouts haven’t had significant impact. Who’d ever sink money into Africa with all those negative images?”
What would change if reporters showed more positive news?
“It might not change Africa automatically, but better reporting—about both the good and the bad—will help people make informed judgments regarding the African continent. As a result, investors may recognize the wealth of economic opportunities there. The media should show Africa some love simply by being balanced and fair to the continent.”