1. Is Mass-media doing enough to provide us with a real insight into African life while also reporting on events in Africa as they occur?
Overall, I feel that the mass media is not doing enough when it comes to providing a real insight into African life, while also failing to report on events as they occur in Africa. With the recent Paris attacks, there was a global outcry especially from the western world, whereby it received endless news coverage, a march composed of almost 4 million people, a minute of silence in the French Parliament and even led to the #Pray4Paris hashtag on social media. Whilst I am not for one second being unsympathetic towards the victims of the Paris attack or refuting the unity that this attack brought about, I am however asking “WHAT ABOUT US?” What about the 147 students killed in Garissa University in Kenya?, what about the thousands of people Boko Haram have massacred in Nigeria?, what about the calls for the same kind of justice for the people of Africa? Are we not a priority as James Marks reported on CNN? Mass media/mainstream media selectively choose what is worth reporting and what is not and have been doing this for years now. They pick what will create the most dramatic headlines and filter out what they do not consider a priority – the eastern world.
2. “Stereotypes play an important role in helping us make sense of the world, and are not necessarily lies”….What are some of the most common representations of Africa in the media?
I believe in the saying “there is a degree of truth in every stereotype”, so I agree that stereotypes somewhat help us make sense of the world. Some of the perpetuated themes of the representation of Africa in the news include: violence, corruption, poverty, disorganisation, less economically developed and the all too well known “please donate £2 to help feed this child…”. Whilst I am still holding strong to my earlier statement that there are some truths behind most stereotypes, it does not end here. Having visited some family in Nigeria, I have seen and can attest to some of these stereotypes. Nonetheless, the whole of Africa as a continent is steadily on the rise especially with the development of places such as Banana Island in Lagos, Nigeria and remains the richest continent in the world. These stereotypes and representations of Africa I believe, can heavily influence ones perception of Africa, more so if one has not been to a country in Africa. This is partly due to what the media choose to filter out of their coverage and what they choose to filter into people’s schema’s and whilst some stereotypes are true, this should not give room to the veiling of the beauty and riches that Africa does possess.
3. Is there a pressing need to alter western portrayal of Africa?
I believe there is a great need to alter the western portrayal of Africa in the film, media and entertainment industry as they do not give an accurate depiction of Africa in its entirety. Films such as ‘Machine Gun Preacher’, ‘Blood Diamond’ and ‘Last King of Scotland’ all convey a ‘brave western protagonist’ as the hero that rescues Africa from destruction. However, it’s not all doom and gloom! Some may argue that there would be no need for the ‘brave western protagonist’ if they had not invaded Africa to begin with. The politics aside, Africans are more than the violent, machine gun holding, corrupted characters often portrayed by westerners, just look at Nollywood.