AFRICA: The View From Here

I dream of an Africa which is in peace within itself. – Nelson Mandela

AFRICA: The View From Here
written by Kendall F. Person

Africa the view from hereIn 1992, African-American host of NBC’s Today Show, Bryant Gumbel, won a powerful coup. The Today Show agreed to allow Mr. Gumbel to host the morning news show from a thriving city in west Africa. In 1993, he was recognized by TransAfrica, UNICEF and the National Association of Black Journalists for his original broadcast from the continent. However, I do not believe that Mr. Gumbel’s accomplishment were ever really understood or recognized for its value within the community.

Up until that time, nearly all images coming out of the Motherland were of starvation, disease, apartheid, savages and one bloody coup after another. His broadcast were from thriving metropolises of ordinary people in all black cities in sub-Saharan Africa. But whether The Today Show did not have a large enough African-American demographic or the images simply seemed unreal, his live broadcast did little to shake the image that Black Africa was not simply third world, but another world altogether.Africa the view from here

 

But nearly two decades later, African nations have taken their reputation and destiny into their own hands and are producing headlines around the world, good and bad, based on the same promises, successes and challenges as the rest of the modern world.

In the late 80s, South Africa was toxic. Mass boycotts of companies doing business there, exploded, draining valuable dollars from the economy. They wore the scarlet letter proudly, being banned from international sports competitions and on the worldwide stage in most endeavors. But when Nelson Mandela walked free, the conversation slowly changed. While the shame of apartheid evaporates and Black Africans take presence in the middle and upper classes, they have gained entry into the world stage, even hosting a successful, top flight FIFA World Cup. While their struggles with crime and gaining control of a HIV epidemic are staggering, they have moved away from issues of race and civil rights onto celebrity gossip pages , with their own trial of the century. Olympic and hometown hero, Oscar Pistorius.

 

Livingstone Zambia
Livingstone Zambia

At 40 years old, Isabel Dos Santos of Angola has emerged as Africa’s richest woman with a net worth of one billion dollars, entering a rarefied club on any continent. When Liberian born Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected President of her country, she shattered a male dominant industry in politics by becoming, not just the first woman president of Liberia, but the first woman President in Africa.

 

Hollywood’s first rival emerged out of the Indian sub-continent, also known as Bollywood. But Nigeria – Nollywood – has emerged as a leader in film in its own right. Nollywood produces somewhere between 1000 – 2000 films per year, and has become a destination for international directors, looking to strike gold, where other rainbows have failed them. Music, models, actors and directors, the entertainment industry has exploded. While non-African born actors still receive the choice roles (American born darling, Jennifer Hudson plays the lead role in Winnie and the London born star Idris Elba delivers a knockout performance in the starring role of Nelson Mandela), African artists are now filling African roles in the arts & sciences.

 

And with successes comes atrocities as terrorists organizations seize the spotlight at any given time.

Luanda Angola
Luanda Angola

While Africa still struggles with corrupt leaders (Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo,President of Equatorial Guinea and Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe come immediately to mind), a spiraling rise in violent crime, including murder and rape (South Africa) and an AIDS crisis that still threatens to become biblical in nature if not brought under control, the African continent has pulled itself up and is polishing its own brand as a destination for business, entertainment, tourism and a normal place to live….just like the rest of the world.

an Editorial from thepublicblogger

40 comments

    • Before the internet (sounds ancient, i know) there were NEVER EVER any photos or television programming or bit parts in movies that showed cities in Africa excluding Egypt and Morocco). As far as we knew, everyone lived in a jungle. I am not simply proud, but The Neighborhood is enjoyed and visited and a even a part of some of their lives, so I also feel it is my obligation to dispel such nonsense out of respect to them. (The Neighborhood Top 10 Cities

      Liked by 1 person

  1. So much to learn; a lifetime is all too short, but the internet – and some brave people, have revolutionised the process. Here’s to an even better educated generation to follow the present crop, thanks to bloggers like you.

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  2. Fascinating read. I remember learning about the African political system in class (in Scotland it’s called Modern Studies, not sure what other equivalents would be). Needless to say I don’t think I ever got it, and along with the good political shifts, the only other thing I could get my head around was the incessant corruption. On the bright side, we discovered the African hip-hop scene and film industry; Cry Freedom and Tsotsi were both outstanding films, and the soundtrack to the latter was mind-blowing.

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      • Nope, tell you the truth you just reminded me about gravatar. It´s not that I don´t see myself good, I actually have a problem which is even though my mother will tell me I look like crap I actually look myself in the mirror and giggle at how beautiful I am. No reason, it´s in the blog. Jesus, I even have a picture of me stripped naked from head to waist with a tube protruding from the stomach.
        Last time I got angry at gravatar because I couldn´t figure out how to put my e-mail and blog adress. I´ll talk it in the nearby future. If my face is going to be out there I´d prefer to be my now shorty shorty hair, with a sick person´s face. I don´t care. I have no shame. You have to know that by now after reading all my stupid things and seing the worst photos of your life! Sorry I put you through that…..
        Stay Frosty friend.

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  3. An interesting article, Kendall. In the 1980’s, Paul Simon’s ‘Gracelands’ album was the only time I can remember hearing or seeing South African culture represented in anything other than withering terms. Thanks for spreading the word about some of the more aspirational aspects of an incredibly complex part of the world.

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    • Adam – So good to see you. I saw a picture of a young man hiding under a counter, in the mall in Kenya. It appeared a good samaritan was coaching him out, but when he saw the three dead bodies, he went into hysterics. It was a still photo but thats the read I got. The mall, the shoppers, the beautiful and the gunshots gave me room for pause. Not just for the victims, but for the continent and I was inspired to write this piece. I am really grateful that it has been received in the spirit in which it was written, and in the spirit of humanity. Thank you for adding your voice to this forum. It means so much. And if I haven’t told you….welcome to the neighborhood. Glad you made it.

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  4. This is exactly why I’m happy to follow your blog. I learn things that aren’t always on my personal radar. Perspective should always change and grow. It makes me glad I’m human while pointing out that we all have a lot of work to do.

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