I dream of an Africa which is in peace within itself. – Nelson Mandela
AFRICA: The View From Here
written by Kendall F. Person
In 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.
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.
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.
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