Monday, December 03, 2007

Something of the Fidel

I was in the US just last week, trying but failing to just chill out, and visiting la famiglia (both in crime and blood). It had been eight years since I went, but it was still easy as pie to slot in and feel at home. I also did the "Chinese bus" trip from New York to DC, which made me turgid with middle-class guilt about labour, unions, safety. All because I didn't pay top dollar on the Greyhound instead.

While visiting my uncle (real uncle, not "uncle" in the African sense) in Maryland, he asked about work, how I was doing, etc - as uncles are wont to do. "I love the BBC", he said. "But". But what, uncle? "But why do all the stories about Africa involve animals and doom and gloom?" This is a tough one to defend, especially because often I work on the Africa desk. Also because I don't like the Dark-Continent-as-one-huge-Safari pre-colonial view of the continent. Still, please don't send me any complaints about misspellings, pronunciations, or anything else to do with the BBC.

People want to hear good news about Africa when the truth is that good news isn't reported about anywhere else. The nature of news is such that it's about what's happening now. "Man scoops dog's poo from pavement" isn't as newsy as "man bites dog." For all the sins attributed to the BBC, it does do is fair share of "good news" stories. It's just that it does them in the context of current affair documentaries. I've just seen one on BBC World: Survivor's Guide - The Nurse Next Door. Set in northern Nigeria, it displays the kind of community healthcare needed to sustain and enhance the wellbeing of Africa. Rural areas are too often marginalised in planning in Africa, and the documentary shows there are solutions. There's something of the Cuban healthcare system about it, a touch of Fidel. Watch below (hopefully):


Moody Crab said...

In my opinion, "bad" news attract more viewers that "non-bad" news. Fortunately, I don't watch BBC news...I prefer Al-Jezeera English. They are more balanced than BBC/SKY/CNN combined

Aspiring nigerian woman said...

Hmm Nkem,

BBC's current documentary about Ewan & his friend's trip round the world did not include West Africa. Why is that? Also, there is very little good story from Nigeria,expect for the killings in NIger Delta and the kidnaps. What about a documentary, looking at the environment polution caused my Shell and Mobil?. I think this is also "bad news" and it is worth telling for a good cause.

There was a documentay a few months ago, on sharia in Northern Nigeria (not sure if it was BBC), but that is just another example of bad nasty publicity.

Nkem said...

Aspiring Nigerian Woman, I did say that nobody should complain to me about anything, didn't I? :-)

Environmental pollution in the Niger Delta has been done quite a bit by Western media - so I don't think it's valid to say it hasn't been covered.

Plus, we don't do "publicity", we do news.

Moody Crab, I like Al-Jazeera English, but I think you'll find you probably like it because it's skewed to your point of view. But that's fine, we all have our biases...

Chxta said...

I try to watch as many news channels as I can cram in one day without getting bored, and I can say with all confidence that Euro News and Al-Jazeera are probably the most balanced...

ANW, I tend to believe that the mainstream media are representative of certain interests which would rather continue to see bad news come out of Africa, and this generally affects their reporting of what is happening.

Then to this 'fallen blogger', I still dey wait you o.