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Africa between History & Hyperlocalism [by Guy Berger] WEF, 2007 Cape Town.

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Presentation on theme: "Africa between History & Hyperlocalism [by Guy Berger] WEF, 2007 Cape Town."— Presentation transcript:

1 Africa between History & Hyperlocalism [by Guy Berger] WEF, 2007 Cape Town

2 Introduction Typical African stories casting negative light: Dynasty politics: son of former president steals election (Togo). Natural disaster: pictures of poverty after floods (Mozambique). SA tolerates a violent regime (Zim). Footdragging on financial scandal (Uganda).

3 Er, I meant to say… Typical ?? stories casting negative light? Dynasty politics: son of former president steals election (Florida, 2001). Natural disaster: pictures of poverty after floods (New Orleans). USA tolerates belligerent state (Israel). Footdrag on financial scandal (World Bank).

4 Not much different! Gives lie to “Africa” as uniquely bad. Highlights the problems of generalising. Shows the problem is not in the news: It’s in the historical perceptions & in the mix of news …

5 Taking a long view 1.From mainstream to marginal 2.From moaning to making history 3.From mourning to mesmerising

6 1: from… mainstream to margins

7 Colonial scramble 1652: Dutch East India Company invested here in 1652. Who wants to invest today? Off the radar worse than colonialism?

8 Africa’s share of total FDI to developing countries

9 Info under-load

10 Dis-aggregating Africa

11 Bird flu Tanzania: 529 000 Uganda: 685 000 Kenya: 905 000 Egypt: 1 170 000 India: 1 290 000 Canada: 1 280 000 France: 1 300 000 Australia: 2 130 000

12 Reflected fame …

13 2: from… moaning to making history

14 Classic complaints Vast black hole Dark continent Savage Crocodile-infested Tribalism Aids Conflict-ridden Child soldiers Starvation Coverage presents Africa as: i.e. the Western media is to blame! WRONG?

15 Stats on poverty The number of poor people declined, mostly in East Asia and Pacific

16 Stats on safe water More than a billion people still lack access to safe drinking water

17 MDG poverty aims Reduce poverty from 29% to 10% World Bank predicts: Goal is in reach at worldwide level, but… Many countries will most likely not reach it: Particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa where average poverty rates remain above 40%.

18 Resulting reports And angry reaction!

19 Victims?... & parrots? For years, African journalists ourselves have added to the bad reporting of Africa by just repeating what the Western media puts out about our continent. We use the same words, the same style and the same doom and gloom stories! - Baffour Ankomah, Editor,The New African, London, 2005 “ ”

20 Another “parroting”? We should begin to do as the Western media does: they respect and obey their laws restricting press freedom, they ‘bat for Britain’ and the West where and when necessary, … they don't have ‘adversarial relationships’ with their governments, they work closely with their intelligence agencies for the good of their countries and people, and they work for the preservation and propagation of Western values. “ ” NO THANKS!

21 He recommends: When we see an African leader under assault by Western governments and media (such as the current assault on President Mugabe), we should be slow in joining the bandwagon and quick in investigating the matter. (Go tell that to Zim journalists!- GB) “ ”

22 = old Nwico drum An African govt minister once said: It is necessary that the inform- ation we disseminate not only reflects the truth, but reflects a truth that is not contrary to the superior interests of the people... “ “

23 Yet, journalism holds: We cannot make good news out of bad practice. - Edward R Murrow, 1965 “ “

24 UNESCO moved on… So should we. Blaming bad coverage on racism gets us where?

25 Mathatha Tsedu The commitment to a true reflection of Africa cannot mean sunshine journalism. It means vigorous interrogation of our leaders, reflecting the good and the bad, not just the good and not just the bad. “ “ Hear hear!

26 2005: 28 countries Corruption—the bane of good economic management Respect for human rights on rise - with glaring exceptions Adherence to constitutions is getting stronger Legislatures & judiciaries are asserting independence The legitimacy & credibility of the electoral process have increased Voter turnouts are on the increase The political space is more inclusive Economic management is getting better

27 Commission for Africa “1984/5 Ethiopian famine images fixed the world in its view of Africa as a place of despair and dependency. But, though such scenes still exist, as a norm they are increasingly outdated. “Things have changed significantly in the intervening 20 years, both in Africa and in the wider world.

28 AMDI & STREAM “Independent media institutions, public service broadcasters, civil society and the private sector, with support from governments, should form a consortium of partners, in Africa and outside, to provide funds and expertise to create an African media development facility.” – Commission --------- “Support local content production”

29 3: from … mourning to mesmerising

30 Taking responsibility


32 Nigeria, Zimbabwe

33 Zim – reverse gear

34 Readership fell 9% from 2000-3 to 2004-6

35 Cadre complement

36 Nigeria Community radio stations: 1 D.R. Congo – has 192 Bad practice begets bad media

37 Telling the stories News as “olds” = nothing new in, or out of, Africa. Same-same. But: tell Africans what’s new – covering: the interesting, the ugly, and the uplifting. and the world will follow… Nigeria – first poll! despite flaws

38 A challenge: Make hyperlocalism history

39 Star Tribune did it

40 + universal stories (Mozambique, 2000): Like hundreds of thousands of other desperate Mozambicans, a heavily pregnant Sofia Chiure climbed a tree to escape the raging flood waters of the Chokwe region, one of the areas devastated by the floods. “ “

41 “Not an ideal location for a heavily pregnant woman” For three days, she hung on not knowing if or when help would arrive. She was into her fourth agonising day, without food or water, when the baby started to come. Racked by labour pains, she clung to the branches and without anaesthetic the infant was born. Sofia clung on, the lifeline of the umbilical cord keeping her baby alive. “ “


43 One of the most well- known little girls in Mozambique “My mom told me I was famous because I was born in a tree. She shows me pictures of me meeting famous people.”


45 French Africa translated TeaXoL3BGMvOg4yzUFzw&_render=rss Headlines from 41 Francophone Africa news sources!

46 ----- Thank you 2007: time to move from whinge to win-win FIFTY years since independence in Ghana

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