Tuesday, January 13, 2009
BOOK REVIEW: New News out of Africa; Uncovering Africa’s Renaissance
New News out of Africa; Uncovering Africa's Renaissance
By Charlayne Hunter-Gaulty
Published by Oxford Press, 2006
142 pages
Reviewed by Jared Ombui

The first chapter begins by exploring Africa in a context of the transforming South Africa, and how different the continent is potrayed in both local and foreign media.

Charlayne correlate the black Americans struggle against racism and bigotry to Africa's struggle against colonialism, or apartheid. Though she recommends the United States (US) steps against racism, she slaps it for its hypocrisy – backing despots in Africa such as Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku of Zaire, who almost emptied the country's coffers; and Jonas Savimbi of UNITA – Angolan rebel group, but, still called Nelson Mandela a terrorist for fighting a justified war against the apartheid regime.

Through her experience as black American, she is in a dilemma trying to reconcile spiritually, culturally and historically to Africa.

Though Africa's young democracies have walked past colonialism and apartheid, there are convoluted walls to tear down: diseases (HIV/Aids and Malaria), economic inequalities, crime, corruption, war and crimes against humanity, and so on.

So far, Africans are becoming masters of their own fate and charting ways out. For instance, many conflicts in the continent have ended out of "the African solution, for the African problems." But, she asks how many democrats are in the continent?

Just like any organisation or government, African initiatives like peace-keeping or enforcement mission are halted by limited logistical support and failure of countries to contribute soldiers, and New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) crippled by limited grassroot participation, which is not different from the South Africa's Black Economic Empowerment Act (BEE) that benefited mostly the top echelon.

To fill the loopholes, I agree tis imperative for Africa to revisit its concepts on problem solving, in the African Union (AU) and NEPAD.

On the last chapter, she analyses the role of the media in Africa's renaissance which is only possible, when the media is free and independent to report with intention of truth, and influence sustainable development, democracy and good governance, and economic prowess in all fronts.

She negates "parachute journalism" by foreign journalists that never seeks genesis and depth of African issues. However, she calls for accurate coverage of the continent and portrayal of its people. For the African journalists, a better story is when they report from the prism of their experiences with fairness, balance, and truth telling to develop the continent on behalf of the [African] people.

Charlayne goes ahead to emphasis the significance of a good working relation between local and foreign journalists/media. She points out also, the challenges African journalists face: government gagging the media, inadequate skills and training of journalists.

She ends by encouraging African journalists to live their dreams.

This book is easy to read and to comprehend. This is a-must-read for Journalists, government officials and the general public.

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posted by ombui at 8:24 AM | Permalink |


  • At 7:29 AM, Blogger masindej@gmail.com

    How should Africa be projected in the media, both local and foreign? Since time immemorial, the African continent has suffered the fate of mal-representation: all the bad and ominious fingers of the western press pointed at Africa. And, the African media has taken up the trend, rather than setting its own trend of reporting about Africa. I think, the media (more so, western media, needs to be re-educated).

  • At 11:25 PM, Blogger ombui

    Masinde, the questions you have asked are key? These also take us back to classrooms to go beyond the thinking that "when it bleeds, it leads… and sales.”

    Okay, Local media should first upscale the reporting and move away from the press conferences...to note beyond who said what and where... Local impact translates to international impact in the digital age.

    But how many African journalists understand systems be it government and local government and even their neighbouring countries… How do they detect error, or good action???

    But have you thought about the threat or impact of advertisers on editorials???

    All in all, the thinking of newsrooms has to change… Something good is news too…

    Now we have African owned news agencies… A24 and so on… Let us support them to achieve a better reporting of Africa.