If western journalists get Africa wrong, who gets it right?
There’s been much criticism of the way the west covers the continent, but are African journalists doing a better job?
The Kenyan writer and graduate student at Harvard Law School Nanjala Nyabola recently caused a bit of a stir with her Al Jazeera article asking “Why Do Western Media Get Africa Wrong?” Reading through the piece, which was both interesting and informative, I couldn’t help but wonder: Just who does get Africa right? Is there even such a thing as getting Africa right?
First let me say that I agree with many of Nanjala’s criticisms of media coverage of events on the continent. As she says, much of it is devoid of nuance and context and seems oblivious to what Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie describes as the “danger of a single story” – the reductio ad absurdum of the tale of a continent of over a billion people and 54 countries, their existence, history and stories compressed into one simple, superficial, easily regurgitated cliché. “The hopeless continent.” “Africa rising.” “Magical Africa.”
Photograph: Will Boase/AFP/Getty Images
Media coverage of Raila Odinga voting in the 2013 Kenya election.