There seems to be no limit to the media’s unwitting capacity to mischaracterize the African continent. Given the often inaccurate and superficial stories that emerge from Africa, is it any wonder that many people in the U.S., for example, think that Africa is one country? Is it any wonder that many Americans believe that the Africa is routinely ruled by greedy despots who live in extravagant luxury while their people suffer in the grip of poverty?
As I mentioned in several previous blogs on this sad subject, the print and broadcast media have usually constructed an African narrative of endless ethnic warfare, incessant drought, tragic famine, unspeakable epidemics, rampant rape and chilling child abuse. The narrative also underscores dysfunctional family relations in which elderly patriarchs brutalize young women some of whom may be their wives, some of who may be their daughters or nieces. In short, the media narrative about Africa makes it seem like a brutal place where people lead miserable lives, a place that is so destitute and hopeless, that “we” need to “help” them.