Western media's false front in Africa
By Ilija M. Trojanovic
Only moments after the Central African Republic's new interim president Catherine Samba-Panza addressed the country's armed forces at a humble ceremony in Bangui demanding national unity, a man was stabbed and stomped to death.
Suspected of being a former
member of the mainly Muslim
Seleka militia, troops who had
just shaken hands with president Samba-Panza were now
clutching knives and stabbing
the defenceless man, whose fate
was finally sealed when they
In light of the slaughter
which took place in broad daylight
- and is becoming an
everyday occurrence rapidly
pushing the CAR's sectarian divide
into disrepair - the UN
has called for an investigation
to hold those government
troops involved responsible.
The French have also said their
troops will now remain on
CAR soil for a further sixmonths.
The collective Western response
is a correct one.
The perpetrators should be
tried and sentenced for such a
gruesome act of violence that
is only amplifying further attacks
in the volatile landlocked
Only weeks ago a Banguian
named 'Mad Dog' made the
headlines: a revenge-seeking
Christian who has already eaten
the legs of two Muslim men
after dousing them with accelerant
and setting them alight.
If there is no intervention, the
CAR could meet the same fate
its not too distant neighbour
Rwanda suffered two decades ago.
Despite the downward spiral
in a country that never really
had problems, the picture
painted by the media is unfair
not only to Central Africans, but
to all Africans.
It has less to do with the
media's accuracy of current
events, and more with the
method of collectivising events
about a single country on the
continent, which boasts 54 in
total - the most of any seven
The commonplace images of
dead bodies and angry mobs
that stations like the BBC,
CNN, and AJE broadcast with
the operatic precursory note
message' only taints the mind
of the viewers even more than
the original news story.
A country where Muslims
and Christians lived side by side
for many years has overnight
become a "lawless jungle...
of violence," according to the
Inter Press Service.
It's not only the all too familiar
tale of reporting wars from
the world's largest and perhaps
most volatile continent, but the
myopia of today's media attention
on Africa even crosses over
to social issues, like that of homosexuality
Illegal in the West African
country, some areas like Bauchi
State can even punish gay Nigerians
with death. Uganda is
also famous for being a staunch
advocate against same-sex relationships.
In Europe and even in the
United States, the subject of
homosexuality is also taboo,
but to be punishable by death
- or even with jail time -
would seem completely absurd.
The homosexuality debate in
Nigeria and the dire security
situation in the CAR are only
two recent windows of opportunity
that have allowed journalists
without a moral compass
to jump right through and denigrate
the two African states.
primitive, and a bastion of
deathly disease and antediluvian
savagery, today's myopic
journalism continuously delineates
the same story of the
Africans are not to blame. To
an extent, neither are the journalists,
but with the extension
of their neo-colonial rhetoric,
they aren't making anything
Sifting back through the
sands of time, King Leopold II
of Belgium massacring what's
believed to be 8 to 10 million
Africans in the Congo and surrounding
areas - which very
well may have included the
people of the CAR - Africans
would have never learned the
art of such carnage we see today.
Had the Islamic conquest
and Christian missionaries not
inculcated animist Africans into
believing dogmas that deprave
homosexuality, radical homophobia
wouldn't exist in
A 2013 African Studies Review
reveals "all the articles
were often copied from laws of
the former colonial power...
[with] Christian (and Islamic)
leaders... often a driving force
behind attacks on homosexuality."
The BBC's special report
showing a clip of Nigerians
stoning the courthouse where
14 gay men on trial were receiving
their sentences is only
one example of neo-colonial
journalism at full tilt.
Ironically, the criminalisation
of homosexuality was installed
in Nigeria from British coded
Prior to the foreign conquest
of Africa, the civilisations of
Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, and Nigeria,
to name a few, were flourishing.
The world's richest ever person
was King Mansa Musa I, a
Malian salt and gold baron who,
in today's dollars, racked up a
fortune of US$700 billion. Even
historians are to blame for not
disseminating the truth of
Africa's rich and colourful past.
Still, it's the job of the journalist
before anyone else to follow
up with current events and
inform the global populace
about ongoing events in Africa.
Instead, lacklustre journalists
are tarnishing the image of Africans.
What this creates is a worldwide
perception of all Africans
as sub-human, and generates
racist sentiment in places like
North America and Europe,
which in turn triggers the upsurge
in right-wing nationalist
groups. The same way journalists
won't bother examining facts
before their reports, neither will
Ryszard Kapuscinski, Polish
journalist and Africa adventurer,
evocatively yet gracefully describes
the continent he spent
many years corresponding from,
saying "Africa is a thousand situations,
varied, distinct, even contradictory.
Someone will say,
'There is war there,' and he will
Someone else, 'It is peaceful
there,' and he too will be correct.
Because everything depends on
where and when." A veracious
journalist of yesteryears generation,
Kapuscinski foresaw in The
Shadow of the Sun, his firsthand
account of his excursions
across Africa, that:
Emulating these ignoramuses
are journalists who unwittingly
report about the African continent.
With the stroke of the pen or
the seconds of a sound bite, they
are reducing Africans to nothing,
quite an unfair trade for the continent
sometimes called the
cradle of mankind.