Africa's Western Media Image...

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[Africa's Media Representations]

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 did Time magazine a few years ago state that the massacres in Rwanda had been fueled by "tribal bloodlust"? 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 that 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 diverse coverage of Africa? Are some of the past and contemporary misrepresentations so fixed that editors and reporters believe they would owe their readers too much explanation if they were to stop using pejorative language in their coverage of events in Africa? Do most Western editors and reporters view Africa from a well-established, and very distorted, journalistic template?

Do African countries deserve the negative coverage due to the exploits of some of the continent's corrupt dictators? Some of the most vocal critics of corruption and tyranny have been Africans --Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Okot p'Bitek and 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 representations 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.

Have some of the stereotypical representations --of Africans and people of African descent-- generated negative perceptions and even created hostility among Diaspora Africans? After all, 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 during "Conversations: Embracing Our African Roots...."

The "Conversation..." which will be taped by CNN will be moderated by Milton Allimadi, Publisher The Black Star News ( and author of "The Hearts of Darkness "
Invited Panelists for the "Conversation..." include: Les Payne (Former Columnist and Editor, Newsday now independent journalist; David Lamb (Playwright: "Plantanos and Collard Greens"; Chika Onyeani (Publisher, The African Sun Times; Miriam Jimenez-Roman, co-founder Afro Latino Forum; 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
Note: The Brecht Forum welcomes modest donations at the door BUT NO ONE WILL BE TURNED AWAY: ALL ARE WELCOME

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