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Western Mass-Media and the African Continent

Part II And Final

Post Colonial and Cultural War in Africa

The African family and society at large is the foundation of our civilization. For example, Eritrean traditional and customary laws were written, documented and well preserved since 1145. The right of every member of the society including the right of animals and plants is well documented. Do not get me wrong every thing which is traditional does not mean it is right. The respect for elders, (women and men), the respect for religious and community leaders, the respect for animals and plants used are only some of the traditional values that should be cherished.

In Eritrea as well as in other African societies, conflict and dispute were resolved under a big tree by knowledgeable elderly people. Amaou Hampate BA, in his book, The Life of Thierno Bokar, highlights wonderfully how traditional African societies used to solve individual and collective problems humanly. In worst cases, when a person commits a crime only then is the individual obligated to quit his community. The person who commits crime is forced to leave his family and the place of his/her birth to go to foreign places. In Eritrea crimes were solved through elderly negotiations in which most often the victims were compensated.

It is almost two decades now since western scholars are studying and conducting so many researches on African traditional conflict resolution. The truth is African traditional problem solving methods were and still are much better than the Western type individual and collective punishment.

European Royal palaces and castles were constructed with underground prisons. Even Churches had their own underground prisons, and those who dared to oppose either the church or the emperors were kept in the underground prisons. But in the Western Mass Media, Africa is not at all depicted in its human centered values. Africa is always presented in its most degraded human values that of child soldiers, genocide and civil wars. For example, under the guise of humanitarian organizations the Zoe Association was caught red handed while trafficking African children to Europe, the Western media presented the human trafficking case as workers for humanitarian organizations doing their job. Indeed taking human beings by force to unknown destination is part of African history. None of the Western media compared the Zoe’s action as a form of 21st century slavery. Why are the Western Media aggressively attacking the Sub-Saharan African countries?

First, by diffusing such horrifying images of Africa they want to justify to the world their past crimes of slavery, genocide and colonialism. That Africans can administrate neither their people nor their country. Second, the ugly images of the war are propagated internationally to terrify and depress the African population in general and the younger generation in particular. Everyday they bring images of horror to convince Africans and the rest of the world that nothing good could come out from the continent. By watching every day human suffering, young Africans are brainwashed in to believing that justice could only be found on the other side of the ocean. And to facilitate their plight every year they are encouraged to fill DV forms, and leave for paradise, i.e. the US.

It is more than a century now since the Western media guided by renegade ethnologists and anthropologists campaigned against the African continent. The truth is traditional problem solving methods in Africa were and still are much better than the Western individual and collective punishment   methods. European Royal palaces and castles were constructed with underground prisons. Even Churches had their own underground prisons, and those who dared to oppose either the church or the emperors were kept in the underground prisons. But in the Western Mass Media, Africa is not at all depicted in its human centered values, Africa is always presented by the Western Mass Media in its most degraded human values that of underage recruitment in military, genocide and civil wars.

It is more than a century now since the Western Mass Media guided by renegade ethnologists and anthropologists campaigned against the African continent. These mass-media intentionally misguided and mis-educated their population as well as the whole world. The historical, political, economical and psychological wars are double faced. Western channels depict images of extreme violence, lawlessness, the ugly face of famine, and wars for 24 hours, on thousands of channels when it comes to Africa. Ironically we all know that Africa is the richest continent when it comes to natural resources and is the most under populated continent in the world. And Africa is still nourishing the North via its multinational companies. In Jacob H.Carruthers’s, in (Intellectual Warfare) own words “for centuries we have witnessed the dismantling, deforming, and defaming of African  institutions, a necessary precondition for the more  perfect exploitation  of African people and resources”.

According to Mahmood Mamdani, the Ugandan author of “Saviors and Survivals”, what we see in Africa, especially Darfur or Rwanda, is not at all ethnic war. He argues that this is the continuation of colonialism and neo-colonialism. He says “In its present form, the call for justice is really a slogan that masks a big agenda to Re-colonize Africa. And Noam Chomsky, in “Media Control, the Spectacular Achievement of Propaganda” says that “the mass media and public relations industry have been used as propaganda to generate public support for going to war.” As we all know economic and political control of a people can never be complete without cultural control.

Psychological Warfare

When the founding fathers were writing extensively on African history, philosophy, economy, culture, literature, and religion, imperialist forces continued manipulating the people of the “Third World” in general and the African countries in particular by using Radio Broadcasting and Television. Imperialism used the mass media from the metropolitan cities in order to attract the attention of the masses all over the world. Americans are the least informed people when it comes to history, geography, languages and different cultures. Probably this is due to the fact that they themselves were under the British colony and had little exposure to the outside world. Euro-American mass media continued to influence many naïve people in Neo-Colonial Africa. These Euro-American Mass-Media had strong influence among African elites. But it does not mean that people without formal education were exempt from the propaganda of Western Mass Media. For transistor radios reached up the most remote villages without any electricity. Generally, people preferred news broadcasted by radio, for they do not have to spend money everyday to buy newspapers. The western psychological war started very early in Africa and the newly independent states were not well equipped to fight back the Euro-American Mass-Media. Africans continued to be misinformed for decades during the neo-colonial era. These internationally owned mass-media affect young Africans by deforming and misinterpreting the African culture. Euro-American mass-media and movies continuously depict young Africans as hustlers, gangs, and delinquents, and these images affect young Africans. TV programs have inculcated the negative self-image and the non-worthiness of their communities for years. In “The Death Squadron” and “The French School”, the books highlight how the renegade and defeated French soldiers left Indochina i.e Vietnam in order to serve, other colonials in Algeria, and once Algeria got its independence, they left in order to serve the fascist military regimes in Latin Americas. They learned their lesson, that no colonial power can oppress the people against its will for a long time. In this book the author depicts on how these former war experts, changed their strategy to use mass media to plant the seeds of hate especially among the masses of Africa. Their method implies creating simple radio station FM, cultivate and perpetuate racial, ethnic and religious hate, and the rest will come by itself. Radio Mille Collins is a very good example in Rwanda genocide. This radio station was used by the Hutu government of Habyarimana in order to perpetuate heinous speeches against the Tutsis. When the heat of the hate reached its peak, the Hutus used simple and primitive arms in order to exterminate the Tutsis. And we know the rest; almost one million people were decimated in few days.

“What is to be done?”

By gone are the times when journalists like Geroge Orwell or Hemingway were reporting the truth for the sake of proper information. Western media continue to dominate the scene by using shocking images against Africa. None of the western media brings to light the wonderful and revolutionary lives of those who fought and won so many battles against slavery, genocide, and anti-colonial movements. None  out of these thousands channels had the guts to highlight people like Markus Garvey, Tom Mboya, Amircal Cabra, Franz Fanon, Patrick Lumumba, Steve Biko and so many others.

Since western mass media are accomplishing their mission in misguiding and mis- informing the younger generation, how do young and old knowledgeable Africans counter fight these channels?

Young journalists should play the same role played by our writers and activists as teachers in the 1950s and 1960s. They should use their talent in order to instruct and inform their population. Understanding our past history and culture will be our force.

-Developing the awareness of our rich and extraordinary African History.

-Understanding and focusing on ancient African Culture.       

-Fighting backward and reactionary political ideologies.

If our forefathers fought and won so many battles against enslavement, colonialism and neo-colonialism, there is no doubt the younger generation can fight against imperialist manipulated mass media? The younger generations can guarantee a solid REBIRTH of the African Continent.   


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