If you think of Africa as a basket case, a continent full of stories about famine, drought, conflict and undemocratic rulers, think again.
Anchor Marco Werman speaks with blogger and social entrepreneur Marieme Jamme who says there’s is a positive image of Africa that’s too often neglected in media coverage.
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Marco Werman: Marieme Jamme says there is an image of Africa that we’ve neglected in our coverage of this diverse continent. Jamme is a blogger and social entrepreneur and CEO of Spot One Global Solutions. Marieme, first of all, we just heard a story from Liberia and it was let’s say a bad news story couched in a good news story. The good news is the bad story, Liberia emerged from a civil war with the continent’s first female president, the economy is moving, but as we just heard there are young men who don’t like President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and those young men could pose a risk of the country’s stability. That’s news that needs reporting isn’t it?
Marieme Jamme: I agree with you, those news need to be reported, but I think sometime the Western media you know, they exaggerate into what they saying to the West. I think when you go back to Africa and the reason why those people are objecting to you know, to the Liberian president is just communication problem. You know, it’s just a small part of Libera maybe, that they’re not very happy. So you find this everywhere. In the West you find this, in Africa you find this. So, my question is why do they have to always report you know, the small negativity that will completely eclipse the rest? That’s my question to the Western media.
Werman: Maybe you can give us a recent example of a story from Africa that you know, was essentially a bad news story and you felt it was just superficial and didn’t really offer anybody in the West a sense of the good news beneath?
Jamme: In Kenya for example, you know, you don’t hear good stories about Kenya. You know, you hear the rioting in Kenya, the corruption in Kenya, you hear those stories. But they never talk about you know, the amazing stuff happening in Nairobi right now, for example, where a big organization funded by Pierre Omidyar from eBay, funded a you know, a [inaudible 1:43] where you’ve got thousands of young Kenyans, developers, business men, social entrepreneurs that unite every single day to come up with brainstorming sessions. There are business being created there, they get grants from the donors, from philanthropists across Africa. And it’s the measure right now of you know, how entrepreneurship is happening in Africa. There are applications, mobile applications you know, Ushahidi is one of them for example, Ushahidi is being used by the New York Times to map elections in Africa and…
Werman: Right, Ushahidi is a CrowdSource software.
Jamme: Yeah, it’s a CrowdSource software and it’s developed by Kenyans in Kenya, but nobody talks about those stories. Nobody talks about the good stories that happen in Nairobi. So there’s a process for this to be duplicated in 14 countries in Africa, so focus on the positivity. At least it’s gonna help people be confident.
Werman: I hear your frustration and it seems you justifiably want a sense of balance in the coverage of Africa, but aren’t those success stories coming out of Kenya for example, of young software developers also countered by enormous misery facing large numbers of the population in the slums of Kibera, for example. I mean those people are the so-called voiceless and isn’t one of the jobs of media to allow those voices to be heard so we all know what’s going on and perhaps policy can change as result?
Jamme: I totally agree with what you’re saying, but if you go to Kibera right now the media use Kibera for you know, for two reasons for journalism for example, and that’s it. They go to Kibera, take some photos, come back and talk about it and that’s it. But people in Kibera, they’ve got dignity. They’re working you know, every morning if you go to Kibera for example, people wake up every morning. They go to work, miles and miles in the town center to have a better life. And the media don’t give solutions. They don’t say here is a good solution for what to do in Kenya. They just say we saw a very poor child in Nairobi, look at the picture you know, please feel sorry for them. And that’s what we see. You know, that’s what happen. And that’s frustrating for people in Kibera. Now they’re actually refusing to take pictures in Kibera and this is you know, it’s getting serious. So when I go to Africa I see amazing stories you know. That’s why I come and I blog about it. And people are going to my blog to read these stories. Maybe that’s why you know, African people wanted to get their own content, they need to start becoming their own editors you know, and create their own content you know. Maybe that will change the Western media perspective on what’s happening in the continent.
Werman: That’s blogger and social entrepreneur, Marieme Jamme. We posted a link to her blog at theworld.org.
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