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Global Misperception Of Africa; A Creation Of Western Media

By Henry Lodam

The Mass Media is the most powerful social tool the world has ever known.

Any Propaganda can be sold and bought using the media and this can shape the world | Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Any Propaganda can be sold and bought using the media and this can shape the world |
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

The Mass Media is the most powerful social tool the world has ever known. Any Propaganda can be sold and bought using the media and this can shape the world. Thoughts and opinions on all kinds of issues can be shaped or managed by the media. Perceptions and mis-perceptions are consequences of how media is used.

 

Mainstream global media like the CNN and BBC are arguably the world’s most powerful media entities. These institutions have over the years carved a niche unto themselves to be the most reputable sources of information for the world – a position they have so earned.

It is very easy to believe anything sold by the two giant media organizations and it is unfortunate that they, among many other western media powers have joined in the spreading of false perceptions of Africa.

The mass media can facilitate global peace and understanding through meaningful exchange of information and ideas but the ideas these two have been sharing with the world about Africa, is hardly the whole truth

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Back to Global Misperception Of Africa; A Creation Of Western Media

I am not here to accuse the BBC or CNN of false reportage or even inaccurate information, no; that is not the essence of this article. I am however doubtful of their sincerity and honestly or impartiality in telling the African story. If anything, African is not what they portray it to be.

Ngozie Adichie Chimamanda from Vulture Website
Ngozie Adichie Chimamanda

In the words of Nigeria’s accomplished writer, Ngozie Adichie Chimamanda, “if I had not grown up in Nigeria and if all I know about Africa were from popular images spread by the media, I too, like my American roommate, would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals and incomprehensible people fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, and unable to speak for themselves; waiting to be saved by a kind white foreigner” in her speech titled “The danger of a single story”

In a world that is not trained on how to consume news, whatever hits their TV screen is a representation of the truth. Perception is reality. African nations have been placed in a stereotyped third world country position among the committee of nations and that profile is the lens through which every event from Africa is perceived and transmitted even though positive events abound. It is difficult to believe they do.

In My Strongest Opinions

While BBC’s hardtalk can lunch an investigation into African leaders and their inherent greed, and then tag them fantastically corrupt, I wonder why the same media, domiciled in Europe and having access to European banks, cannot put in the same effort in fishing out who the real beneficiaries of the proceeds of the corruption are; European banks and ultimately the European economy have questions to answer.

AFRICA IN THE EYES OF CABLE NETWORK NEWS (CNN) CHART | From ResearchGate
AFRICA IN THE EYES OF CABLE NETWORK NEWS (CNN) CHART | From ResearchGate
Global Media Diplomacy
Global Media Diplomacy from [email protected]

Aljazeera seems to be more balanced than BBC and CNN. Data revealed that much of Africa was not reported by CNN in contradistinction to Aljazeera. It was further found that CNN had a preponderance of unfavourable news (75%) while Aljazeera had a fairly equitable distribution of 47% across the favourable and unfavourable categories. A synthesis of the data showed Aljazeera to be more favourably disposed towards the reportage of Africa

I watched the BBC report on the attempted smuggling back to Nigeria, of a former Nigerian Minister of Transport, Umaru Dikko, who purportedly stole a billion dollars from the Nigerian government under President Shehu Shagari then and had fled to London when General Muhammadu Buhari became the Head of State.

attempted smuggling back to Nigeria, of a former Nigerian Minister of Transport, Umaru Dikko, who purportedly stole a billion dollars from the Nigerian government under President Shehu Shagari then and had fled to London when General Muhammadu Buhari became the Head of State.
Kidnap Attempt of Umar Dikko in Container – Pics from D Accolades Bloger

The report painted former Military Head of State, and now President, Muhammadu Buhari black, rather than through a search light on where Nigeria’s $1 billion is. Britain has been the harbinger of thieves and the British economy gained a lot from laundered money from Africa, especially Nigeria. This is why, when the planned smuggle foiled at the airport, the British Government put Umaru Dikko under tight Security and protection. But there was no investigation as t the source of Umaru Dikko’s wealth stashed away in British banks.

There is also the report of a former Head of State of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon travelling to the UK with half of the central bank. I didn’t see any investigative journalism by the mainstream global media like the BBC, as long as the money is from Africa, it is Okay that it is transferred to Europe. Are they concerned about the wealth of Africa being swept away to their host country?

Head of State of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon travelling to the UK with half of the central bank
Head of State of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon travelling to the UK with half of the central bank

The western media stereotypically focuses on the ills of Africa as if caused by Africa, but of the root cause, there is no investigative journalism spent on digging. While CNN could dig out the gas explosions in Lagos Nigeria, they are not interested in digging out the exploitation of the wealth of Nigeria by the owners of the pipeline (foreign multinational oil companies)

While the BBC can perform a brilliant examination of the environmental degradation of Ogoni land in Southern Nigeria, no amount of documentary effort goes into investigations of companies that are responsible because they are British. These companies have been in Africa for close to a century, milking the resources in Africa at the expense of African lives and the African environment. Their wanton disregard to pipeline laying guidelines and gas flaring has led to the death of many as well as causing huge climatic damage. I am yet to hear about it from the BBC

A critical discourse analysis was based on interviews with CNNI news producers and executives, and 6 focus groups of Ugandan viewers that were conducted in 2004 and 2008. Results show not only dissonance, but also a disconnection between CNNI news producers and Ugandan viewers’ perceptions of the network and of their 2 major local stations. The network was the main source of international news in 2004 in Uganda but its appeal diminished by 2008. Viewers considered its coverage largely biased and ill-motivated towards Africa,

CNN and BBC are quick to point out what the US and UN and USAID, and Oxfam and UNICEF and the rest of the Western world are doing to cure AIDS, Meningitis, Cholera, Malaria, and poverty in Africa. They are happy to tell the rest of the world that Africa is a sick and dying continent desperately in need of western aid. Meanwhile, they are aware how much of African resources are being exploited by those who claim they brought aid to Africa but they are not interested in reporting it. Yes, we agree that Africa has its problems, but no, that is not all the story. Africa is far better than what it is portrayed to be and I bet you, there are great a number of Africans in diaspora, building the great citadels that make up the pride of the western world.

Maybe the western propagandists are in control of mainstream global media and maybe whoever they choose to pull down, they pull down, but Africa is struggling to change its narrative, yet, the effort is not recognized. There was no camera on Thomas Sankara; there was no camera on Steve Biko or Hastings Banda, or Samora Machel. There is no camera on Julius Malema and certainly CNN and BBC cameras cannot see Paul Kagame and how he is turning Rwanda into a developed country. No; the only few times there were cameras on him, it was to humiliate him with ridiculous allegations of of human rights violations for uniting a country that was at the brink of collapse on the hills of ethnic induced genocide. Paul Kagame is a Hero, whether they see it or not. African media must rise up and tell the world the true story of Africa.

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