Saturday, February 26, 2011

The African Revolutions Will Not Be Televised

The Arab and North African revolutions are having serious effect partly because they are televised. In Sub-Saharan Africa, they are ignored.
...particularly troubled by the failure of the international media to pay due attention to events in Ivory Coast, where the UN estimates that at least 300 people have died and the opposition puts the figure at 500.

"With due deference to the bravery of the Egyptian demonstrators, protesters who gathered this weekend in Abidjan [in Ivory Coast] aren't up against a military that safeguards them - it shoots at them.

"The country's economy has been coughing up blood since November, with banks shutting by the day, businesses closing by the hour and thousands of families fleeing their homes," he continues. "And in all of this where is Anderson Cooper? Where is Nicolas Kristof? Why is Bahrain a front page news story while Ivory Coast is something buried at the bottom of the news stack?"

The journalist is equally as disappointed in world leaders. "This Friday, Barack Obama publicly condemned the use of violence in Bahrain, Yemen and Libya. When was the last time you saw Obama come out and make a statement on Ivory Coast? Or Eastern Congo? Or Djibouti, where 20,000 people protested this weekend according to the opposition?

"The problem is that most American media compulsively ignore everything south of the Sahara and north of Johannesburg. A demonstration has to be filmed, photographed, streamed live into the offices of foreign leaders to achieve everything Egypt's achieved."

Nanjala, a political analyst at the University of Oxford, suggests this journalistic shortcoming stems from journalists' tendency "to favour explanations that fit the whole 'failing Africa' narrative".
And note this, which suggests a stronger and richer conception of democratic life than I think exists at all any more in the US, despite the heritage of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Dewey.
"What people want is the democratisation of society, of production, of the economy, and indeed all aspects of life," says Manji. "What they are being offered instead is the ballot box."


Anonymous said...

I agree that it is a bit odd for President Obama to seem to identify more with Arab peoples than with sub-Saharan African peoples.

There must be a reason for this. Perhaps some day we will all know what it was.

helmut said...

Yeah, because that's what this story is all about. If you parse the article even more carefully than you already have, you'll find a secret coded message showing that President Obama is amassing an army of swarthy Muslim archangels for battle to the final of the most final-like finality (like, this time, it really is final, not like all those other final times) over who gets to rule Home Depot and Baskets-and-Things forever and ever.

Cheryl Rofer said...

Six killed in 'coup bid' against Kabila.

From BBC News.

MT said...

And what scares Obama so much about fruit?