Perception of Africa Through Western Eyes
A paper on the "Perception of Africa Through Western Eyes" written by Chris Ferris, recent volunteer teacher, who used it to teach the teachers and the students on how the westerners perceive our part of the world and what through traveling they have discovered.
Perceptions are Based on Information
Sources of information:
- Electronic media, such as news, charity appeals, documentaries, movies
- Tourism, usually just 4-6 weeks, stories told when returning
- Immigration/ Refugees
Broken governments, nothing works, dangerous, violent, illiterate, uneducated- basket case, dirty, unhygienic.
- News - 90% negative
- Famine, coup, civil war, massacres, corruption, kidnaps, disease, poverty, refugees, environmental disasters, piracy
- 10% natural wonders, making good, animals (Big 5), sport (positive news)
Problems with western media:
Presentation of Africa is recognised by people studying at all leading universities. The bias towards negative reports leads to a cycle of more negative reports.
How do we improve the situation?
- Encourage more reports from African countries by African reporters on positive stories that can run on BBC, CNN etc.
- Encourage weblogs by Africans on internet sites showing the true situation in the countries.
- Pressure our own western media to report more fairly
Sections of Africa
Perceptions depend on where you are talking about :
South Africa - Very dangerous, mainly fear about Johannesburg and shanties, shark attacks, kidnaps, carjacking, murders.
East Africa - Tourism, safer, safaris, masai, famine war, piracy, drugs (Ethiopia and Somalia).
Central Africa - Good, gorillas/ mountains. Bad child soldiers, genocide, famine, smuggling, blood disease. Total no go-write off. Diamonds/ gold.
West Africa - Not much attention, Ivory Coast, Nigeria pipelines/oil attacks – nollywood.
North Africa - Not Africa - Arabs.
Bad news sells
No quality local news available
Donor fatigue especially religion
AIDS - we have our own problems, no funding for own (poor)
With thanks to Chris Ferris.