Why is it that in the 21st Century conflicts in African countries are still often portrayed as “tribal wars” in Western media and in some cases Africans are still referred to as “tribesmen”? Why do major media see no need to balance coverage of turmoil in African countries with some of the success stories that have also emerged?
How many in the general public, for example, are aware that African economies are set to grow by more than 4% this year, one of the highest rates in the world, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal (March 8, 2010 issue)?
Do editors and reporters in some Western media believe the stereotypical images of Africa –backward, uncivilized, disease and conflict-prone– are so deeply ingrained in the Western psyche that they don’t even think it’s worth offering more balanced coverage of Africa? Are some of the past and contemporary misrepresentations so fixed that editors/reporters believe they would owe their readers too much explanation if they were to use pejorative language in their coverage of events in Africa? Do most Western editors/reporters view Africa from a well-established –and distorted– journalistic template?
Do African countries deserve the negative coverage due to the exploits of some corrupt dictators? Some of the most vocal critics of corruption and tyranny have been Africans –Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Okot p’Bitek, Ngugi wa Thiong’o– yet these writers don’t use any of the pejorative terms –“tribesmen” “savage wars” “dirt poor Africans” — favored by some Western writers.
What are some of the consequences of decades –indeed centuries– of negative coverage of Africa in Western literature and journalism? Inferiority complexes? Racist attitude towards Africans and people of African descent? Manufactured enmity amongst Diaspora Africans –after all, not many people would want to be associated with an “uncivilized” and “backward” continent. Some of the stereotypical representations –of Africans/people of African descent– have also generated negative perceptions and even created hostility among Diaspora Africans.
Yet, as Malcolm X once said “You can’t hate the roots of a tree without hating the tree.”
These are some of the questions and issues that will be FRANKLY explored during a gathering of Diaspora Africans (African Americans, African immigrants, Afro-Latinos, and Caribbean immigrants) at The Brecht Forum on Saturday, March 13 from 4 PM to 7PM for “Conversations: Embracing Our African Roots….”
The “Conversation…” which will be taped by CNN will be moderated by Milton Allimadi, Publisher The Black Star News (www.blackstarnews.com) and author of “The Hearts of Darkness ” http://www.theheartsofdarkness.com/
Invited Panelists for the “Conversation…” include: Les Payne (Former Editor, New York Newsday); David Lamb (Playwright: “Plantanos and Collard Greens” www.platanosandcollardgreens.com); Chika Onyeani (Publisher, The African Sun Times www.africansuntimes.com); and Joyce Adewumi (Exec Director, New York African Chorus Ensemble).
After brief presentations by the panelists most of the time will be devoted to Q & A and discussions with members of the public.
The Brecht Forum: 451 West Street (between Bank & Bethune Streets, New York, NY 10014 Phone: (212) 242-4201
The Brecht Forum welcomes modest donations at the door BUT NO ONE WILL BE TURNED AWAY: ALL ARE WELCOME
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