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Re: [ujeni] Malawi news

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  • Vyrle Owens
    12 July 2000 Dear Christine, Thank you for the article, Africa is not a Basket Case. People hear so much of the negative (poverty, war, famine, HIV/AIDS,
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 12, 2000
      12 July 2000

      Dear Christine,

      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@...>
      > To: ujeni@egroups.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
      Pushpa Jamieson was threatened by
      > about five heavily armed Police Mobile Force
      (PMF) members while covering the
      > aftermath of Malawi's 36th independence
      anniversary at the Civil Service Stadium
      > in Lilongwe.
      > Jamieson had photographed the aftermath of
      clashes between riot police and
      > hundreds of people who could not be
      accommodated in the stadium when she was
      > accosted by the PMF members. While training
      their guns on her, they confiscated
      > her camera and threatened to shoot her if she
      resisted. They claimed she was not
      > allowed to take pictures of riots, but
      Jamieson had only photographed the debris in
      > the main road and not the actual riots.
      > After the incident Jamieson returned to the
      "Chronicle" offices, where she reported
      > the matter to her colleagues. A while later,
      the same policemen who had
      > confiscated her camera stopped near the
      paper's office, prompting newspaper staff
      > to approach them about the camera. One of the
      officers then used a wooden baton
      > to beat journalist Don Kulapani, while other
      officers threatened to arrest the other
      > journalists. Kulapani was saved from serious
      injury by the intervention of other
      > staff. A short while later about twenty other
      officers arrived on the scene and
      > threatened to shoot the journalists if they
      did not leave the place.
      > "Who do you think you are? We are doing our
      job. You can go and sue if you
      > want. We are PMF, so watch yourself," one of
      the policemen were quoted as
      > saying.
      > Later that same day, Jamieson's camera was
      returned to her, but without the film.
      > *****
      > Africa is not a basket case
      > Why does the Western media goes out of its way to trash the
      image of the
      > African continent?
      > JOHN MATSHIKIZA asks
      > To paraphrase from a character in one of Toni Morrison's
      great novels:
      > "The trouble with these people is that they just don't
      know when to stop."
      > OK, I admit it, I'm still smarting. Sitting in the centre of
      the African continent,
      > staring out at its myriad wonders, I find myself still
      smouldering like the
      > magnificently mysterious Mount Cameroon, ready to explode. For
      > A recent edition of The Economist magazine led with a cover
      story entitled
      > "Hopeless Africa". It was another example of the Western media
      going out of its
      > way to trash the image of the continent, to seek to sustain
      the notion that Africa
      > will remain the basket case that it has always been in the
      Western imagination.
      > Yes, there is hideous civil war raging in Sierra Leone; the
      Democratic Republic of
      > Congo remains an intractable mire of war, political intrigue
      and financial
      > corruption; Ethiopia and Eritrea are involved in a mortal
      combat of twin brothers;
      > Aids casts its lethal and unexplainable shadow from north to
      south; illiteracy is
      > growing, children face a bleak future.
      > And yet, this is not the only story out of Africa. There are
      other, equally important
      > stories, stories that are seldom told, about the sheer
      exuberance and variety of the
      > place. How can there be one image of Africa?
      > And yet, in spite of the schoolyard chant that says "Sticks
      and stones may break
      > my bones, but names can never hurt me", a bad image, when
      carefully placed, is
      > hard to shake off. Thus readers of The Economist, sitting
      thousands of miles away
      > from the continent in question, would have swallowed the whole
      thing, hook line
      > and sinker, when that noble rag made so bold as to say:
      > "Africa was weak before the Europeans touched its coasts.
      Nature is not kind to
      > it. This may be the birthplace of mankind, but it is hardly
      surprising that humans
      > sought other continents to live in ..."
      > 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
      economically, Africa finds it
      > hard to stabilise politically. Huge numbers of its
      best-qualified citizens choose to
      > join the brain-and-body drain and leave "hopeless Africa"
      forever - joining the
      > rest of those (supposedly "sensible") "humans [who] sought
      other continents to
      > live on". The lie becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
      > But what does one actually perceive on the ground?
      > Take the Congo. On the surface, and all too terribly, a basket
      case living through
      > an endless and meaningless series of civil wars, with no
      infrastructure worth
      > speaking of 40 years after independence from the Belgians, and
      so 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 to
      live in peace, they
      > would be able to demonstrate their political sophistication
      and their ability to uplift
      > and govern themselves.
      > Far from The Economist's view that "nature is not kind to it",
      the Congo is
      > testimony to the fact that Africa's natural riches are part of
      its fatal problem.
      > Everyone greedily wants a share.
      > Far from all intelligent life forms choosing to leave it
      (although there are hundreds
      > of thousands of refugees and political and economic exiles),
      Africa, on the
      > contrary, as well as being abundantly populated in the most
      fertile of its regions, is
      > also still being endlessly invaded from other continents. This
      invasion - from
      > Britain, from Lithuania, from the Americas, from China, from
      Israel, from New
      > Zealand or wherever else there is a class of buccaneer
      missionaries to sample
      > from - comes, as it has always come, for the twin purposes of
      rape 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 is
      the endless variety of
      > its people, with their incomprehensible, fascinating, age-old,
      yet adaptable,
      > cultures. Africa is still, in Western eyes, and in spite of
      all the deliberate
      > disinformation, "God's own country".
      > "Hopeless Africa" is rather an image of hopelessly passionate
      romance. If Africa
      > was really a hopeless case, if it was really nothing more than
      Heart of Darkness
      > and "The White Man's Grave", would there still be so many of
      the latter species,
      > in all shapes and genders, moving so tenaciously through its
      heartland? From King
      > Solomon's Mines to The Snows of Kilimanjaro, from Out of
      Africa, the film
      > Chocolat, and whatever is coming out next, the West's romance
      with Africa is a
      > gripping and eternal part of its secret personality. And like
      a secret lover, it has to
      > be denounced to its very face to keep the secret safe.
      > What else does one perceive from down here on the ground?
      > That Africa is not an entity divorced from the history of the
      rest of the world. Nor
      > is it remote from any aspect of what the world is today. Not
      only is the African
      > image deeply embedded in many of the accepted symbols of world
      culture: vast
      > arrays of the cultures of the world are part of the African
      image - while not
      > contradicting the existence of a distinct African identity.
      > Africa, like the rest of the world, is capable of being both
      ancient and modern at
      > the same time.
      > Africa is like the rest of the world. Except that it is
      > We must not avoid being critical of our own continent. But we
      must also try to
      > keep a clear eye on what the continent is really like, and be
      clear that it is not, by
      > a long stretch of the imagination, a hopeless case.
      > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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    • Rand Wise
      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
      Message 2 of 10 , Jul 13, 2000
        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."
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