When Kenyans ganged up against Cable News Network, CNN, in 2015 for a coverage calling the country a “hotbed of terror” just when the then Us President, Barack Obama was about to visit the country, it was justified. It was totally unfair and disrespectful of a media of such caliber to undermine the country in total disregard of the sacrifice of our soldiers fighting Al shabaab militia in Somalia.
Today terrorism is a global problem. The USA itself has been a victim of terrorism a number of times, and that’s the very reason for decades now they’ve been occupying the Arab World (if you can put aside their appetite for the local natural resources like oil), just like what the East African troops are doing in Somalia, trying to bring some order. You go to West Africa and you’ll find Boko Haram militia camped there and terrorizing the local people. In recent years we’ve all seen the atrocious acts of ISIS, and how it has bled Asia, Europe and other parts of the World.
When Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester was attacked by ISIS, leading to the loss of 22 lives — innocent kids just out to have fun — and hundreds of others wounded, the whole world mourned together. Both Africans, Americans Asians and all the rest of the human race stood together with Europe during that tough time because we understood that terrorism was a global problem affecting each one of us. It didn’t hurt any less just because I was watching from a TV in the safety of my home, thousands of miles from the attack.
Obama, as a president, had been to some of the worst places on the planet and CNN then didn’t show such concern, but now that he was visiting his father’s ancestral home, they’re allover acting like jealous teenagers. But with the twitter hashtag, #someonetellcnn that seriously trended, CNN got the message loud and clear. They acted quickly and send a senior individual to come and apologize.
Apology was accepted and we moved forward in peace, and it has all been good until a few weeks ago when the Al shabaab attacked us again at Dusit in Nairobi.
In the aftermath of the attack, New York Times (NYT) published a gory picture of the victims of Dusit, which didn’t go very well with most Kenyans who felt it wasn’t right to publish dead bodies as it dishonoured the victims and their families. Kenyans reacted and bashed the newspaper for their insensitivity, demanding an apology. NYT responded, but not to apologize to the Media Council of Kenya (MCK), or the victims families, but only to defend their insensitivity and failed journalism.
“Important to give readers a clear picture of the horror of the act and this include showing pictures that are not sensationalized but show a real sense of situation” — NYT
Maybe they were right, give their readers the reality of the situation, show them everything and let them decide for themselves, which the NYT did pretty well in the story, except for that picture. By the picture, I mean the timing of the story. Most people were just coming to terms to what was real happening, the atrocious acts of the militia group, and mind you, most victims families were still unaware of the whereabouts of their loved ones. Can you picture a person in the US, or in the UK who picks up NYT paper only to see a mutilated body of his or her relative on the front page! Even in this age of social media, our own people were doing everything they could to not do that, they showed admirable restraint for the sake of the victims’ families. It’s called responsibility.
And if you acted irresponsibly, or Kenyans felt you acted irresponsibly and demanded for an apology, you should do it. apologizing isn’t that hard, yet a reputable newspaper like NYT couldn’t do it. Maybe because it was an African country demanding it. What would anyone lose by saying SORRY.
Apologizing for something even if you know you’re right, is showing you’re responsible and mature. Saying sorry doesn’t necessarily mean you are wrong. It’s like me publishing something about my absentee dad on my blog which mama feels is disrespectful. She confronts me and wants me to pull it down. I know what I published about the man is the truth, but since mama doesn’t like it, and maybe feels hurt by it, I apologize. Only then, after my apology can I go ahead and explain to her why I published that post. After hearing me out, and still insists I should pull down the post or whatever it was that I published, I would go ahead and do it.
Owning up and apologizing to Kenyans and Africans like CNN did should’ve been the first thing NYT did before going ahead to tell us why they published that story the way they did.
It is high time the Western media started respecting Africans by caring about their feelings as a people. Why let a reporter who has never been in Africa do a piece on Africa, it beats logic. Why not hire local reporters like what the BBC Africa has done, people who understand the local context and can anticipate the reaction of the people on a certain story.
Actually I don’t get it. I don’t get why anyone would do that. Do you loathe Africans that much? What do you gain by undermining someone who’s supposedly beneath you. As Africans, we have our problems, and only God knows how we’re working hard each day to rectify them and make our home desirable enough. We are not perfect, and we’re working towards that, and you as our big brother, we’re looking up to you for guidance, to learn a thing or two. But what we’re currently seeing isn’t that desirable after all, if the Western media is anything to go by.
The Western media is acting like that big brother, or sister, who you only hear from when criticizing you for some mistake, but never commends you when you do anything good.
The continent has so much good and inspiring stories but no one sees that, only choosing to see and talk about the bad: the slums, terrorism, illegal immigrants, famine, Civil wars, election violence et cetera. And funny enough, all these negative things I’m mentioning are almost in each and every country.
In the Western Media, only the worst of news and stories from Africa make the headlines. You would rarely hear of this boy lighting up his village, or that young lady uniting communities that previously didn’t see eye to eye, or that young man who came up with Mpesa, a mobile money transfer platform that is now revolutionizing the mobile money industry across the globe.
The rushed travel advisories each time there’s an attack on our soil, and that really hurt our tourism sector and our economy in the long run. Tell me if that isn’t double standards!
The West, as much as we need them, they too still need Africans, and all the rest of the “third world countries”, and should therefore stop treating us like vermin. Respect is paramount. This stereotyping of Africans should stop. And I completely agree with what one equally pissed African wrote, that maybe as Africans, it’s time we got our own microphone on the global arena in which to tell our own stories, and not to sit and wait hoping someone else will be kind enough to tell it for us, and in the way we want it told. Exactly like what Al Jazeera has done for the Arab World.