'Another Africa' and its 'New News'
Black Looks blog points to a piece in Salon which excerpts the incomparable Chinua Achebe's Another Africa. The excerpt explores a theme common to Achebe's work: the cariciaturization of black Africa in the west. Whether it was the sensationalist novels of late 19th and early 20th centuries or the sensationalist TV programs of today. It seems everything we hear out of Africa is bad.news. Achebe takes issue with this one-sided characterization.
I am presently reading New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa's Renaissance by Charlayne Hunter-Gault (who I wrote about here). Hunter-Gault, an African-American journalist who lives in Johannesburg, explored a similar theme in her book. The new news out of Africa, she concludes, is that forward strides are being made too.
We in the west get a very biased picture of Africa. Certainly, war, hunger, poverty, disease and corruption are a part of the African reality. A part. Not the whole thing. There are certainly bad things happening on the continent. Most of these things are worse in Africa than any other continent. But it's easy to be cynical. It's easy to either write off the continent. It's just as easy to patronize Africans as helpless children, instead of recognizing that the majority of them are far more innovative and resilient than you'll ever be. They have to be that way or they'd be dead. Of course, the reason most westerners see Africans as passive victims is because portraying them as proactive or entreprenurial isn't as good for ratings and circulation.