Re: [ujeni] Malawi news
- 12 July 2000
Thank you for the article, "Africa is not a Basket Case."
People hear so much of the "negative" (poverty, war, famine, HIV/AIDS,
deforestation, mineral depletion, civil disorder, etc. etc. etc.) that it
is almost impossible to get them to actually hear something positive about
Actually, I don't think people believe me (even people who know me well and
trust me) when I describe the very positive 6 year's experience I had in
Southern Africa. Sure there were problems, challenges, and not a few
heartbreaking incidents. But there were also many delightful times, "a-ha
moments," and heartwarming relationships to remember.
It was a great place to experience 6 years of the sorrows and joys of life.
What more can I say? Focusing on either the negative and tragic, or the
natural beauty and human tenacity will fail to give a balanced picture. I
just wonder why the "west" clings to its "negative" image so tightly, not
only of Africa, but also of India and other places filled with large
numbers of struggling people who aren't exactly white.
Thanks for keeping the news on/in the ujeni. It is about the only material
about Africa I get these days.
Also thanks to Elizabeth Bell for the HIV/AIDS updates.
> From: Christine Chumbler <cchumble@...>Pushpa Jamieson was threatened by
> To: email@example.com; seanconchar@...
> Subject: [ujeni] Malawi news
> Date: Tuesday, 11 July, 2000 10:29 AM
> Journalist threatened, film confiscated
> The Media Institute of Southern Africa
> July 10, 2000
> Windhoek - On Thursday July 6, journalist
> about five heavily armed Police Mobile Force(PMF) members while covering the
> aftermath of Malawi's 36th independenceanniversary at the Civil Service Stadium
> in Lilongwe.clashes between riot police and
> Jamieson had photographed the aftermath of
> hundreds of people who could not beaccommodated in the stadium when she was
> accosted by the PMF members. While trainingtheir guns on her, they confiscated
> her camera and threatened to shoot her if sheresisted. They claimed she was not
> allowed to take pictures of riots, butJamieson had only photographed the debris in
> the main road and not the actual riots."Chronicle" offices, where she reported
> After the incident Jamieson returned to the
> the matter to her colleagues. A while later,the same policemen who had
> confiscated her camera stopped near thepaper's office, prompting newspaper staff
> to approach them about the camera. One of theofficers then used a wooden baton
> to beat journalist Don Kulapani, while otherofficers threatened to arrest the other
> journalists. Kulapani was saved from seriousinjury by the intervention of other
> staff. A short while later about twenty otherofficers arrived on the scene and
> threatened to shoot the journalists if theydid not leave the place.
>job. You can go and sue if you
> "Who do you think you are? We are doing our
> want. We are PMF, so watch yourself," one ofthe policemen were quoted as
> saying.returned to her, but without the film.
> Later that same day, Jamieson's camera was
>image of the
> Africa is not a basket case
> Why does the Western media goes out of its way to trash the
> African continent?great novels:
> JOHN MATSHIKIZA asks
> To paraphrase from a character in one of Toni Morrison's
> "The trouble with these people is that they just don'tknow when to stop."
>the African continent,
> OK, I admit it, I'm still smarting. Sitting in the centre of
> staring out at its myriad wonders, I find myself stillsmouldering like the
> magnificently mysterious Mount Cameroon, ready to explode. Forwhy?
> A recent edition of The Economist magazine led with a cover
> "Hopeless Africa". It was another example of the Western mediagoing out of its
> way to trash the image of the continent, to seek to sustainthe notion that Africa
> will remain the basket case that it has always been in theWestern imagination.
>Democratic Republic of
> Yes, there is hideous civil war raging in Sierra Leone; the
> Congo remains an intractable mire of war, political intrigueand financial
> corruption; Ethiopia and Eritrea are involved in a mortalcombat of twin brothers;
> Aids casts its lethal and unexplainable shadow from north tosouth; illiteracy is
> growing, children face a bleak future.other, equally important
> And yet, this is not the only story out of Africa. There are
> stories, stories that are seldom told, about the sheerexuberance and variety of the
> place. How can there be one image of Africa?and stones may break
> And yet, in spite of the schoolyard chant that says "Sticks
> my bones, but names can never hurt me", a bad image, whencarefully placed, is
> hard to shake off. Thus readers of The Economist, sittingthousands of miles away
> from the continent in question, would have swallowed the wholething, hook line
> and sinker, when that noble rag made so bold as to say:Nature is not kind to
> "Africa was weak before the Europeans touched its coasts.
> it. This may be the birthplace of mankind, but it is hardlysurprising that humans
> sought other continents to live in ..."economically, Africa finds it
> Three quick lies in three quick
> sentences. But their message hits home,
> nevertheless. Potential foreign investors
> are told what they want to hear, and
> decide on the basis of nothing more than hearsay to stay away.
> A chain reaction follows. Continually destabilised
> hard to stabilise politically. Huge numbers of itsbest-qualified citizens choose to
> join the brain-and-body drain and leave "hopeless Africa"forever - joining the
> rest of those (supposedly "sensible") "humans [who] soughtother continents to
> live on". The lie becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.case living through
> But what does one actually perceive on the ground?
> Take the Congo. On the surface, and all too terribly, a basket
> an endless and meaningless series of civil wars, with noinfrastructure worth
> speaking of 40 years after independence from the Belgians, andso on. And yet,
> people are living there. The land is wide, rich and fertile.The marketplace culture
> is alive and kicking. If the ordinary people were allowed tolive in peace, they
> would be able to demonstrate their political sophisticationand their ability to uplift
> and govern themselves.the Congo is
> Far from The Economist's view that "nature is not kind to it",
> testimony to the fact that Africa's natural riches are part ofits fatal problem.
> Everyone greedily wants a share.(although there are hundreds
> Far from all intelligent life forms choosing to leave it
> of thousands of refugees and political and economic exiles),Africa, on the
> contrary, as well as being abundantly populated in the mostfertile of its regions, is
> also still being endlessly invaded from other continents. Thisinvasion - from
> Britain, from Lithuania, from the Americas, from China, fromIsrael, from New
> Zealand or wherever else there is a class of buccaneermissionaries to sample
> from - comes, as it has always come, for the twin purposes ofrape and pillage.
> Cobalt, wood, gold, aluminium, copper, oil, rubber, platinum,diamonds - you
> name it, Africa's got it, and someone else wants it. Wildlife(both for viewing and
> hunting) exists in unparalleled abundance. And then there isthe endless variety of
> its people, with their incomprehensible, fascinating, age-old,yet adaptable,
> cultures. Africa is still, in Western eyes, and in spite ofall the deliberate
> disinformation, "God's own country".romance. If Africa
> "Hopeless Africa" is rather an image of hopelessly passionate
> was really a hopeless case, if it was really nothing more thanHeart of Darkness
> and "The White Man's Grave", would there still be so many ofthe latter species,
> in all shapes and genders, moving so tenaciously through itsheartland? From King
> Solomon's Mines to The Snows of Kilimanjaro, from Out ofAfrica, the film
> Chocolat, and whatever is coming out next, the West's romancewith Africa is a
> gripping and eternal part of its secret personality. And likea secret lover, it has to
> be denounced to its very face to keep the secret safe.rest of the world. Nor
> What else does one perceive from down here on the ground?
> That Africa is not an entity divorced from the history of the
> is it remote from any aspect of what the world is today. Notonly is the African
> image deeply embedded in many of the accepted symbols of worldculture: vast
> arrays of the cultures of the world are part of the Africanimage - while not
> contradicting the existence of a distinct African identity.ancient and modern at
> Africa, like the rest of the world, is capable of being both
> the same time.Africa.
> Africa is like the rest of the world. Except that it is
>must also try to
> We must not avoid being critical of our own continent. But we
> keep a clear eye on what the continent is really like, and beclear that it is not, by
> a long stretch of the imagination, a hopeless case.
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- Remember that time we thought about writing a WID proposal to buying
branding irons? It didn't occur to us at the time, but that last Malawi
News article tells us we might have been more successful if we had written
the proposal to buy a "blender", vis-a-vis the line below:
"Gulule at first refused to withdraw his statement, denying that he blended
the ruling party deputies thieves."