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11.06.2004 Feature Article

Africa-Who is telling our story?

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I happened to go to the BBC News website, and click on the link http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/default.stm . I did what I normally do, which is to visually scan the headlines quickly, and start selecting what I thought was worth reading.

As I glanced, something horrific captured my attention. Stories about limbs being cut off, people killing themselves, refugees selling their bodies, Arabs fighting their black brothers in Sudan (Dafur), children being molested and abused, …and the last caption was sadly, Nelson Mandela's decision to remove himself from public light.

In short, the news for that day, as it represented Africa, was as dark as one could imagine. On this same BBC site, as one clicked on other links, such a Europe, Americas, Middle East, the stories carried different set of news, which would bring about a different sentiment and set of emotions from readers.

My point? How can this continent, after it has provided the world with horrific acts that border on the barbaric, expect people with no ties or vested interest, feel convinced enough to come down and put their money and other resources in these areas? How can we expect to compete with other parts of the world, with less risk associated with them, for direct foreign investment dollars?

While we waste time fighting and setting our societies back, why would we want us to be seen as logical people, interested in developing our economies to provide a better standard of living for our people?

How can we argue that the world is unfair to us in terms of news presentations, when the media practitioners know that for news to have value, it must be shocking, and unusual, and of course in Africa there is no shortage of this? We make great news for the world.

How can anyone, feel anything but sadness when they read African news, especially when they have ties to the continent, when this type of content, as cited in the website above, is the norm, day after day, year after year?

As human beings, is there anything that motivates us, as Africans, to focus on self-destruction, abuse and just vicious acts against the vulnerable in our societies, that border on acts reserved for the barbaric?

Fellow Africans, if we wish to really change our position, in terms of the world economic order and the perception of the continent, let us look at what we do and the actions we take within our continent and against our own selves. Acts of deceit and wickedness seem to be the order of the day, but until we move away from this trend, we will remain nothing more than the brutal savages we are suspected to be.

It is a sad time for us Africans, as the one shining star we have, in terms of personalities, Nelson Mandela, now leaves the public limelight after many years of a great positive PR campaign for the continent as whole.

We provide the content for all the news about our continent. Can we use our energies elsewhere, in a more meaningful manner? Let us pursue this. It is worth a try.

Ako Folson
Ako Folson, © 2004

The author has 58 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: AkoFolson

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