Africa for Dummies(Category: Texts)
I first thought just to display the cover without writing more than: Yes, thank you! We need that book! Absolutely!
Actually, I don’t have to say more since I posted oftener on the difficult perception of Africa in Germany, esp. in German media. In Germany, Africa is the continent of Ks because its typically linked to negative words which usually start with the letter k: Kriege (wars), Krisen (crisis), Korruption (corruption), Krankheiten (diseases), Katastrophen (desasters)… You know what I mean.
But let me tell a little bit more about the
book and its intention. The cover that was only intended as an oafishness was made by Michael Kirkpatrick who writes as an Independent Global Citizen in his own blog and also gives thoughts to the one-dimensional coverage of Africa:
Americans would be offended if the world defined America through sensational murders, natural disasters, misguided political leaders, and epidemics. That’s exactly what we do to other parts of the world. (via Africa is not a country)
He’s right. But what applies for Americans is not wrong for Germans. Just remember the World Cup 2006 when the African community in Berlin planned to create a map with No-go areas1 to protect non-white foreigners from assaults by neo-Nazis. Especially the federal state Brandenburg was widely criticized as Uwe-Karsten Heye, founder member and chairman of Gesicht zeigen, a NGO against right-wing extremism, xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism, vividly warned non-Whites against visits of certain areas. The reactions, in particular from East-German politicians, to the warnings were harsh. It wouldn’t be true that we would have problems with neo-Nazis. And it would be stigmaferous.2
And what did happen four years later in the news coverage of South Africa? Exactly the same but in a more prejudiced way. Whereas in the first case an interest group with local experiences made a name for themselves, in the latter one every
douche bag journalist presumed to warn the audiences about the black danger called Africa. Whenever something happened in Africa, the numpties weren’t able to calm down.
They, e.g., seriously connected an assault on a football team on Angolan soil with the World Cup related South African security debate; just as an human stampede during a World Cup qualifying game in the Ivory Coast. They asked: Will the World Cup in Africa really be safe? Well, it would be the same if one would strongly recommend not to visit Germany if the French youth rehearses again the uprisings in the suburbs or another bomb explodes in Great Britain. It’s stupid but it seems to be fair for Africa.
What did eventually happen during the first World Cup on African soil? Right. Nothing. At least nothing dramatic. These damn tourists didn’t let themselves to be shake down for their valuables. In their distress, the journalists covered stories about journalists who were assaulted, mugged or ripped off.3
To not to revert to the same interpretative model one needs knowledge (e.g. that Africa is not a country) as well as an understanding for different cultures. Needless to say, that that’s not possible if one stews in one’s own juice. Journalists could gain a little better understanding if they would be forced to deal with the crap they continuously produce.4 An ordinary recipient could watch more than the Tagesschau to learn that Africa is not a single unique entity.
According to Kirkpatrick, he has achieved his point of view by a Malawian pen pal who wrote him after finding his employment identification badge in the pocket of a shirt Kirkpatrick donated to the Salvation Army. The penpalship lasted for two years and Kirkpatrick’s interest for Africa was sparked.
Although the cover only was a silly idea, Kirkpatrick would be happy if the book would become reality one day. It would perhaps be an impulse for non-Africans to rethink their often one-dimensional interpretative model of Africa.
A pious hope.
- A quite improper term! ↩
- Only an ignorant White could come to these thoughts. ↩
- During the World Cup, the publication of the crime reports were allegedly delayed whereby the media would have less incidents they could cover. However, I haven’t found anything about this accusation. ↩
- For example in editorial meeting. *giggle* ↩