Thursday, January 12, 2006

No, BBC, Africa is not one or two countries

This morning, on the radio there was an extensive report on witchcraft in the "African community" living in the UK - talking about a "pastor" who repeatedly allegedly told parents who were members of his church that their children were possessed and/or were witches and needed to have the witchcraft beaten out of them or even killed. Horrific though the report was, I was disturbed by the fact that throughout the report, there were references suggesting that these beliefs and practices were common in the African community , yet all the specific references and instances presented were to only two countries-the Congo and Angola.

I will not even try to start to unpick what appeared to be the subtext of the whole report and investigation; and while I would be the last person to ask that wrongdoing be swept under the carpet, it is disheartening that in 2006, the supposedly liberal and enlightened BBC still sees Africa as one huge, unyielding mass of misery, and is unable to discern the rich complex weave that is Africa

As to the assertion that these beliefs and practices are common in the "African community" in the UK, I ask- where is the evidence ? I have a wide network of Nigerian friends, colleagues and family living in the UK and have never come across these beliefs or practices among them.

There are many self professed Caucasian English witches and only yesterday on the same programme, there was reference to a scandal in northern Wales about ten years ago where several children were taken into care because their parents were thought (falsely as it later turned out) to have been subjecting them to "Satanic rituals and abuse", and it did not lead to suggestions that these beliefs and practices were rife among the population of this Northern Welsh town or Welsh people in general.......

8 comments:

Pilgrimage to Self said...

I listened to the same programme as well this morning and was left feeling the same way. I also watched the programme on BBC One last night and yes, like you rightly pointed out, there was no inference that satanic worship was common among the UK counties! I smiled when a colleague told me the other day 'Oh my brother just went to Africa on holiday'. Am I the only person who feels like punching them when they say things like that?

Anonymous said...

Listening to western journalists reporting about Africa is bad for health. Protect yourself.

Monef said...

Kind of brings to mind those maps they used to have in history and geography that distorted the sizes of the continents. What we need is someone to undertake an expose ao that for every ridiculous commentary passed on "Africa" , western comparisons are made.

Nneka's World said...

Had a conversation yesterday with friends about this topic.
What annoys me is when they say "africa" likes its a country. Its a Continent! We dont say we are going to europe, Asia or Americas
Have to agree with Monef

sokari said...

I listen to the World Service and Radio 4 and this happens time and time again. Sometime ago I listened to a BBC report discussing language only to hear Africa's languages being described as dialects! In another case a journalst speaking of countries he had lived in named a various countries + Africa as if Africa is a country.
As Anon says - it is bad for your health!

Aaron Rowe said...

I agree about the 'Africa' issue. I have a friend who visited Uganda for a few weeks and now feels he can give talks about Life in 'Africa'. I've tried to explain to him, that's like visiting Poland and talking about life in Europe. His attitude is that 'Africa is Africa - it's the same everywhere.'

So I argued, Surely you think Egypt or Morocco are a little different to Uganda? His reply 'They aren't really Africa though are they?'.

I have spent a lot of time over the past 6 years in Nigeria, Mostly in Lagos, and I am utterly convinced that I couldn't even scratch the surface of what Life in Lagos is about. But I am trying.

Don't give up on us Occidentals yet, it's only a matter of Time and Education.

Steel said...

I live in Atlanta, Ga, but I grew up in mexico and ecuador. On google "earth viewer," Lagos looks like a real hell hole, but you tell me differently. very facinating...

Anonymous said...

Yes, am the culprit reading this 16 months later. I remember hearing this on radio 4 and a couple of friends and I wrote to the BBC to complain about various inaccuracies in the programme. We later found out that the Journalist who did the piece, now calls himself an expert in African Affairs had spent a couple of Months in Angola. The Cheek of this man. Of course he did not have answers to our queries.

On another matter. Am really enjoying your blog. I came across it 7 months ago and book marked it - but sort of forget to keep checking. Your thinking is very similar to mine. I have enjoyed the book lists and will try to get the ones I haven't read so far.

I am East African and can definately relate to a lot of stuff you write. I follow Nigerian Politics like a hawk and read various books from all over the world. Boundaries to me are imaginary lines - so all African literature is game