Your African Revolution Will Not Be Televised

The world recently witnessed a cataclysmic event; apparently democracy was coming to the Middle East. Tunisia inspired millions around the world to demand better of their regimes. Egypt followed suit; with Libya up to bat. The western world delighted and cautiously observed, actually they gawked and sent every ambitious journalist and camera near sight to cover citizens exercising their democratic right to a regime change. Revolution is important news. Real news.

Unless your revolution is taking place in Sub-Saharan Africa, or more popularly referred to as the ‘darkies of the south’ then you, my friend, are shit out of luck. There are a few universal truths in mainstream media reportage of global politics: states rise and fall; economic re-shuffling occurs at a moments notice; regimes change; democracy is won and lost; and Africans are always killing Africans. We are depicted as a people in a perpetual cycle of civil war, with a particular fondness for tribal warfare, and machetes. In Egypt, they were hailed as revolutionaries, and in Sub-Sahara Africa, we have rebels. There are pro-democratic protestors and movements occurring throughout the continent, and yet the mainstream media has its eyes focused on our african brethren to the north.

Now I understand the political underplay involved the recent coverage of the North African protests, and the importance of these events in terms of global politics, but Sub-Saharan Africa is the resource lifeline for the planet, and yet the political events occurring are dismissed, and de-legitimized.  The scarcity of media coverage involving Black African revolutions points to a colonial paradigm that depicts Africans as a people incapable of appreciating democracy, never mind implementing it. Political analysts, journalists, and pundits are baffled at the sight of black Africans in the squares of Kinshasa, Addis Ababa, or Kigali, protesting, and can only rationalize their political chants as hostility. In response to the recent push for democratic reform in Cote D’Ivoire, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon expressed a concern regarding the plausibility of a civil war in that region, which translated means, “‘these niggers will kill each other again”. Economic and political disintegration in Africa does not inspire shock and awe amongst most people, as these are the anticipated consequences of a society and continent deemd to be primitive and under-developed.

But all hope is not lost, I’ve compiled a list of successful ways of garnering media focus on our revolutions.

  1. We need a revolutionary colour, (this will help differentiate between the  protestors and old guard), that way westerners can recognize whose who, and who wants what.  Let’s be honest, our dark skin is confusing as shit to folks, and when we’re all wearing civilian clothes, carrying machetes and sticks…well it kinda looks like a gang fight…think the 1995 Source Awards.
  2. We need a designated area to congregate, it makes it much easier for the media to observe, record our demands and needs. This designated area would have a catchy name like ‘freedom square’, where newcasters continually repeat this location, thus creating a Pavlovian like response from the public; effectively garnering the international support needed to make your revolution a success!
  3. Need a cool scarf,  ( or emblazon our politial leaders on funky graphic tees) so, that white liberal kids can appropiate and spread our ideals subsconciously under the guise of  non-conformism.
  4. Leave your crazy cousins at home (no crazy Africans allowed). I don’t know if it’s the sweltering sun, but some us are really not fit to be in public. Unfortunately the legacies of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and murderous dictators have done a number on the psyche of many of our African brothers and sisters, and they are in no position to be in a revolution. How do we identity them? They have a penchant for retro clothing, wigs, and/or clubs. Just imagine a hipster wielding semi-automatic weapons made with love from Russia.
  5.  Try not be black

Sorry folks, but the truth is, nobody really cares about our democracy quests, and political plight. But other Africans care. Those of us in the diaspora are deeply connected to the continent, and many of us eagerly await the day we we can walk amongst our co-nationals in autonomous homelands, free of neo-liberalism and klepto-cratic regimes. If we want to see this day, it is up to us to implment our own forms of media, and represent our voices and struggles. I have little intention of doing either of these things, as I will leave this to folks more socialized than I.

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3 thoughts on “Your African Revolution Will Not Be Televised

  1. I think part of the problem is that the Western media has so well divided Africa into North Africa and ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ – which I consider to be a racist term. And everyone jumps on the name, just like they did with Middle East ( was made by a American analysts as a general term to describe region in the context of Western foreign policy) and like they did for the ‘Arab Spring’. Lets look at it this way, blacks represent about 12 percent of the US populations, it would be offensive and incorrect to refer to all Americans as white. black & Berber populations represent in Algeria 25 percent of population, Tunisia 10, Libya 20 percent, more than 20 percent in Morocco, and even a small minority in Egypt, yet we feel fine labeling them all Arabs. Its this mix up that all Africans are black that we ignore the complicated ethnicities and origins of these ethnicities in Africa. The Arabs now have Al Jazeera to promote their Arabness but the rest of Africa doesn’t have anything like it. Besides the West as consistently trusted Arabs more than ‘Africans’.

    • “Lets look at it this way, blacks represent about 12 percent of the US populations, it would be offensive and incorrect to refer to all Americans as white. black & Berber populations represent in Algeria 25 percent of population, Tunisia 10, Libya 20 percent, more than 20 percent in Morocco, and even a small minority in Egypt, yet we feel fine labeling them all Arabs. Its this mix up that all Africans are black that we ignore the complicated ethnicities and origins of these ethnicities in Africa. The Arabs now have Al Jazeera to promote their Arabness but the rest of Africa doesn’t have anything like it. Besides the West as consistently trusted Arabs more than ‘Africans’.”

      I agree, and you’ve made excellent points about how the media generalizes north africa as the middle east..Africa
      is much more complex than that, but while I recognize that, I do believe that there is an ideological narrative amongst north africans
      that depicts their society as separate from ‘black africa’. Look at the treatment of African immigrants in the aftermath of the so called
      libyan revolution. While we may understand the connection and historical solidarity of all africans, unfortunately there are North africans, and
      africans with arab lineage who do reject black Africa. Now take take paradigm and add it to western ideas of two separate africas…
      Irregardless of what our history and anthropology states, the world and politics see an arab africa, and a black africa.

      • I think this article from @globalvoices on race in Brazil (http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/11/29/brazil-census-black-mixed-population/) gives a good point of view. I’ve visited Morocco (mostly down south in predominately Berber populated areas) and its quite striking how racist the “pure” Arabs is. In fact there was an ‘African Culture Festival’ at my sisters University in the United States. The Moroccan Arabs refused to participate in the same group as the Berber Moroccans. I also meet an Egyptian-Sudanese couple who clearly considered themselves African (which they are). What I am trying to say is 1) color of skin is a very bad teller of race 2) self-recognition simply allows us divide ourselves into what makes us feel better 3) this whole thing that ‘Africa is a race’ and ‘African Arabs aren’t Africans’ is promoted by the media. Western media, Arab media, and even black African media. Look how often in news sites North Africa is broken off into the middle east. I just think that people need to be taught the truth that they are ignoring. the truth that a large population of these ‘Arab’ countries are ‘non-arab’ or mixed. Just like the people in Brazil need to realize the truth that a large part of the population isn’t white. But they are never going to learn these things if the people telling their stories (the media) continually ignores it.

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