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The Pen, the Sword and the Rusty Dagger: The Western Capture of Journalism in Africa


There was a time long ago, when people came to the African continent, dictating to us how to live, how to pray, how to dress, how to talk and how to think. And we lost everything. Hundreds of millions of our fellow Africans sold into slavery.

Cultures, histories and nations annihilated in the name of “civilization”.

When the slave trade ended the Europeans focused on colonialism, and for a while the slave master changed from a white plantation owner to a black African puppet government, installed by a European so-called democratic nation, to perpetuate Western rule over its African neo-slaves.

And so we fought for independence. And one day we “gained” our independence, as if we were bratty teenagers rebelling against old-fashioned and overbearing parents.

However, one must wonder how independent did we become, when to this day the colonial borders drawn by the Berlin Conference remain, nations retain their colonial names, as well as the colonial political structures?

Once these African governments “went rogue” and turned to serving their own interests, instead of serving us the people, we fought for democracy.

Now the African journalist was handed the whip of slave foreman, and the people were transformed into a slave army standing at attention, ready to overthrow governments of black oppression, some supported by Western oppressors who promise poverty-alleviation and progress, if only we stopped procreating so damn much.

Here are your buzzwords, journo: democracy, dictatorship, aid and AIDS, and don’t forget to mention the gays. Keep the slaves in check, and I’ll be checking in with you this evening with your pay cheque.

“The whole notion of journalism being an institution whose fundamental purpose is to educate and inform and even, one might say, elevate, has altered under commercial pressure, perhaps, into a different kind of purpose, which is to divert and distract and entertain.” -Tom Stoppard

 African mainstream media has been failing Africans since BBC and their ilk first set foot on this continent. We hardly have any journalists deserving of the title.

What passes for journalism in Africa today is comparable to a room full of mostly robots regurgitating and propagating anti-African and anti-Black narratives, copy and pasted from western media outlets, then published as Nigerian news, or Kenyan news, or Rwandan news.

If you shut down every single news shop on the African continent today, what would change for the African people? What would really change?

If we agree that the primary mission of news media is to inform society, to enlighten the people and thereby participate in the driving of progress, how would any of that be negatively affected by deleting all the news media outlets in every African country today?

Who among them is seriously fulfilling the role of defending the interests of civil society, of effecting transparency in governance and elevating the socio-political and socio-economic education of our peoples?

Which form of traditional news media do we have in Africa today? Newspapers and radio, mostly. According to statistics provided by the UN Economic Commission for Africa: Africa has an estimated population of 1.2 billion 41% of which is under the age of 15 and 19% aged 15-24 years.

How does mainstream news media in Africa today serve a predominantly youthful population?

The bulk of what we are getting from our African news media outlets is comprised of anti-African, western-idealizing content, that – by default – refers to every African government as a “regime” and monotonously questions the legitimacy of any African government with presidential term limits exceeding the Holy Grail of two (prescribed by who?).

Meanwhile, no western government is referred to as a regime and most European countries do not have term limits.

African journalism dismisses African knowledge for Western “expertise” and serves as nothing but a tool for the imperialist control over the African mind, by those who enslave us, rob of us of our resources and stifle our development and self-determination on the one hand, and then on the other have the utter and complete lack of self-awareness to “warn” us about the allegedly ulterior motives of Chinese investment in Africa.

If that is what counts for news media in Africa, is this youthful population of ours not being mentally irradiated on a daily basis by this poison known as African “journalism”?

Are these African wielders of the pen instead not just backstabbing assassins armed with rusty daggers laced with betrayal and greed?

If our African journalists, mentally enslaved to the western paradigm of the White Saviour Industrial Complex—without whom we Africans are said to forever be doomed to remain unformed savages – if this crop of African journalists are to be entrusted with this sacred role of being “the voice, the eyes and ears of the people”, is it any wonder we know more of the habits and escapades of a Beyoncé or Kanye West than we do of the inner workings of our own African governments and civil societies?

The summit for African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) – the biggest treaty this continent has ever known – was held in Kigali in March, and not much African news coverage dealt with this summit, the content of the treaty, or the importance of a Free Trade Area for the economic development of Africa.

What do Africans really know about ACFTA today? What have African journalists contributed to a deeper understanding of the urgency and the benefits of ACFTA?

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” -Malcom X

Most of us in Africa have not fought a real war for true independence until we rid this continent of what calls itself African news media today. Who are they speaking to? Not us. Who are they speaking for? Not us.

Who controls them, and whom are they answerable to? Certainly not us.

These guardians of white supremacy are a cancer in our societies. Their euro-centric brand of African journalism imposed on us, is the most sophisticated form of neo-colonial control we have thus far endured.

Instead of propping up puppet-governments all across Africa, the much more elegant approach now to maintaining Western hegemony over African nations, is to control African media.

And whenever we Africans try to fight against this manipulation of our minds, whenever we attempt to resist their control of our media, all it takes to scare us away from the fight is for western “media watchdogs” (dogs, indeed) to trumpet the words “media freedom”, “freedom of the press”, “freedom of speech”.

One wonders, if our media is supposed to be free according to Western standards, how come we don’t get to tell our own side of the story?



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