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Let the full story be told


by Maxwell Haywood 30.MAY.08

Positive actions are often starved of attention by the media, which has a major responsibility not only to expose the negatives or wrong doings, but to promote the good emanating from within societies. This situation plays itself out daily in the mass media.{{more}}

Most of the news in SVG about the outside world is controlled by external media institutions. Even news about what is happening in SVG is influenced by these external forces, whether through people trained to carry out the principles and sensitivities of external interests, or through imitation of the standards of news and information dissemination by the external mass media.

This is glaringly so, especially concerning news, information, and knowledge about Africa. I wish to share a case.

With the celebration of African Liberation Day last week, there were events in the African world which demanded that we reflect on the challenges facing Africa. One of these events is the outburst of violence against African immigrants in South Africa. According to reports, those who were targeted had migrated from neighboring countries such as Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The reasons for this outburst of violence are diverse. At another time, I would like to present a survey of the underlying reasons for this kind of violence.

News of this violence committed by Africans against other Africans traveled around the world at lightening speed. Here it was again that Africans are killing each other, never mind the other positive developments occurring in South Africa that deserve the same attention.

It is important to note that the news did not report positive developments in South Africa with the same energy and speed it sent news around the world about the violence against African immigrants in South Africa. For instance, just several weeks ago, South Africans experienced a major achievement. The major organizations of the national liberation movement or the alliance that fought against apartheid in South Africa consolidated their strength in order to speed up the economic and social development of the majority of South Africans who are Black and were brutally oppressed, suppressed and exploited and were unable to enjoy the fruits of their labor by apartheid rule which ended in 1994. The forces within the national liberation movement have had a long standing unity amongst them, which has been tested over their years in struggle against apartheid. In the context of some decisive struggles going on currently in South Africa, these organizations and components of the liberation movement reasserted their mighty strength in unity. They recently had a profound meeting, and this is what the final Declaration of the Alliance Summit had to say:

The African National Congress, the South African Communist Party, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, together with the South African National Civic Organisation, met in a highly successful Alliance Summit at the Gallagher Estate, Midrand, from 9-10 May 2008.

After two days of open and constructive debate, delegates agreed that the Alliance, building on the new spirit of unity already displayed in a variety of joint activities over the past four months, is on course to play its historic role as the leader of South African society in achieving the goals of the National Democratic Revolution and building a better life for all.

This news could not be found in the media headlines around the world. But once violence started against African migrants residing in South Africa, this was shown around the world over and over again for all to see. When there are constructive developments and progress, the mass media becomes mute. Sadly, there are those among us who are unconsciously and others consciously helping the media to spread negative images about Africa. They want us to focus almost exclusively on the negatives about Africa like violent conflicts, corrupt leaders, starvation, and so on. Of course this must be done. But also more must be done!

The spotlight should continue on the forces that have been holding back Africa for centuries, which include both external and domestic forces. Now is not the time to reduce that focus. It is needed now more than ever before, because that is still a major part of life in Africa.

There is a need to inform and educate the people not only about the shortcomings, weaknesses, and failures in Africa, but also to highlight the strengths, achievements, rich history, and potential of Africa. To do these things is surely not to divert attention away from the negatives and blame others. It is indeed a more balanced and inclusive approach to this vital cultural issue since it highlights the interdependence of African descendents in places like SVG and Africans in Africa. The constant negative diet of news and information about Africa, without a context, only feeds our negative self-image. We all know the consequences of a negative self image. Let the full story be told.