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Western Mass-Media and the African Continent


European scholars of the 17th and the 18th century had very little knowledge of Africa and the Africans. Eurocentric ideologies classified civilizations as oral and written to justify the unjustifiable racist ideologies of the 17th and the 18th century. Africans were subjugated to slavery, genocide and crime against humanity in the name of Christianity and written civilization. In the past, Africa had had its own written languages, signs and symbols. Secret societies used to initiate their followers by using scripts, signs, and symbols. Ancient Egypt was the first nation in the history of man kind to devise its own alphabets. Alexandria was the biggest library of the time, before the Romans reduced it to ashes. The remaining hieroglyphs engraved in the tombs and pyramids are living witnesses of ancient Egyptian civilization.

Today, historians and linguists both admit that there has been linguistic genocide in the African continent. Some of the almost extinct scripts, signs and symbols are: the Moroe script of the upper Nile, the Ousmania script of the Somalis, Giscandi pictograph in Kenya, the Nisibidi in Nigeria, the Dogon signs in the Mali, the Mende signs in the Sierra-Leone and the Akan script in Ghana. Last but not least Arabic script was used by most religious and traditional leaders of West Africa, when Islam spread in the late 7th century. To use the words of A.S. SAAKANAA’s, in Colonialism and the Destruction of the Min, ‘in traditional societies, knowledge was hermetic and moral, and the elites when killed as well as their countries colonized and militarily African women in Antiquity etc. these are some of the so many history books written from African centered approaches.

Post-Colonial and Resistance in Africa: Writers and Political Activists as Teachers

What is Post-colonial? And who is post-colonial? According to Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin in Post Colonial Studies, post colonial is defined as all former British, French, Spanish and Italian colonies including Australian, American and Canadian writings are considered as post-colonial. Writers from the former colonies started responding to the ex-colonialists Eurocentric writings, by using the language of the colonizers. Indeed post-colonial era was the revival of African and the Third World Culture, literature, theatre, songs and cinemas. Writers from the south responded to the Eurocentric ideology in different cultural forms.

Political independence brought with it so many unanswered questions, on economic development, managing one’s own resources that nourishes (and continues to nourish) so many continents. The questions of education were so crucial.

Euro-American policies of the 50’s were a real disaster to young African nations. Most African Nations fought imperialistic manipulations courageously. Visionary Africans like Kuwame Nukruma, Tom Mboya, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, who saw beyond boundaries were eliminated by imperialist forces. In most African countries, popular African struggles were overthrown, and were replaced by puppet governments. For decades now African nations were run by European ex-colonial soldiers, supported and advised by the same colonial governments.  In spite of the harsh realities, Africans worked hard on every field to overcome the images given to them by former colonialists and imperialists.

I would like to mention some of the dirty politics played against the African in the 70’s. One decade after African independence, the World Bank and the IMF imposed structural adjustment to all independent African countries, and was accepted by the regimes of that time with out any protest. The structural adjustment was done intentionally, in order to retard the African process of development. Two main institutions were hit drastically, the Ministries of Health and Education. Former colonizers used indirectly the World Bank and the IMF organizations in order to weaken African governments. In spite of the national and international manipulation, against the African, so many wonderful writers, novelists continued to highlight the weakness and strength of their people. Writers like Semben Ousman, Mongo Beti, Kiwei Armah, Chunua Achebe, Nugugui Wa Thiongo, Wole Soyinka, Camara Lay, Nuruddin Farah, Outaya ou Tamchi and so many others influenced and instructed a whole generation of Africans.

The post-colonial period produced as well, some renegade writers like V.S Naipaul, who writes intentionally in the European mainstream style, A Bend In A River, about Africa, Guerrillas, on the Caribbean independence movements, the wounded civilization of India on the Indian continent and Islam, on Malaysia and Indonesia.

In Covering Islam, author E.W. Seid highlights how the U.S took over the former British and French colonies in the Middle East, and argues that historically the French and the British had long experience and knowledge about the Arabs and Islam. Unlike the US, European academicians had better intellectual backgrounds, to write and analyze about the people of the Middle East, their history and their religion. In this book he first depicts the Palestinian history and destiny and the role of Eurocentric mass-media. Journalists and reporters were writing about Palestine only if Israel was attacked, and the Israelis were the real ‘victims’. The atrocities committed by the Israeli police were never brought to public until the rise of the first intifada.

The second example given in Covering Islam is Lebanon’s civil war. Western mass-media were unable to criticize Israeli’s intervention, not even during the intensive war that went on in the Sabra and Shetila Palestinian refugee camps.

The third and longest part of the book deals with the U.S policy in Iran since the 1953 coup d’etat, the American Embassy hostages in 1979, and the coming of Ayatollah Khomeini. Edward Seid brilliantly analyzes how American journalists and reporters were dealing with the state of Iran, Islam and particularly the Shi’ats.
It is as if discrimination between religious passion, as struggle for just cause, ordinary human weakness, political competition, and the history of men, women, and societies seen as the history of men, women, and societies cannot be made when “Islam” or the Islam now at work in Iran and in other parts of the Muslim world is dealt with by novelists, reporters, policy-makers, “experts.” For further reading on the interpretation of Islam, we can also refer to Mahmood Mamdani’s, Good Muslims and Bad Muslims.

In Africa there are several scandals committed by international organizations, NGO’s and multinational companies. Oil and petrol companies in Africa not only exploit the country’s wealth with out paying anything, but also:
1.    Africans who work with these companies are under paid
2.    They corrupt the government and the administration of a country
3.    They pollute the environment and destroy vegetation.
4.    Some oil companies are behind the assassination of political activists, e.g. The writer Ken Saro Wiwa
5.    Last but not least they heir mercenaries and organize coup d’etats when the head of state refuses to do what he is supposed to do. This is true for the whole West African states rich with oil and petrol.

Another good example is the multi national company AVEREA, which controls all the Uranium mining in Niger and DRC West Africa. BOLLORE – has the monopoly of woods and ports to facilitate the transition of raw materials. DE BEERS, controls the diamond mines in South Africa, Sierra-Leon, and Liberia.
Some African journalists, writers and activists have paid their lives, trying to inform the world what exactly is going on in their respective countries.  Western mass-media’s silence is well understood as they are financed by the same multinational companies. And naturally, when journalists write about these multinational companies they always try to embellish their images.

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