My Africa is not hungry. My Africa is just a giant that has failed to take giant strides. Africa as a continent has probably suffered more than any other continent on the planet, in the hands of the press. The press has inundated us with images of hungry and suffering children. These are the pictures that best describe what the rest of world thinks of Africa, or at least that is what television has made us believe. You see, you never truly realise that you are a black person, until you move to a predominantly ‘white’ country. And that was my predicament.
Growing up in Nigeria, with fairly comfortable parents, my life was pretty fine. I got all my basic necessities and probably a little more, if I batted my eyelashes long enough at my father. But I wasn’t oblivious to the suffering of the poor and the needy, or so I thought. I saw the occasional beggar on the street & a fair amount of homeless people. But in my head, Africa was doing pretty well for itself.
This lasted, till I moved to England. Then I noticed that in between TV shows, there were always commercials, appealing for donations to ‘hungry African children’ somewhere. All over the UK as a whole, there was always somewhere appealing for help for Africa. The final stroke that broke the camel’s back, was when I watched the documentary ‘This is Lagos’, aired by the BBC. This is Lagos, made it a point of duty, to show all the worst parts of Lagos, and somehow missed all the more civil looking parts of it. On their way to the slums of Lagos, did they not see Victoria Island? Did they not see Lekki? Whether this was a coincidence or not, we will never know.
But all these made me see a side of Africa I had never seen before. A hungry, helpless, desolate place, looking up to the mercy of developed countries for its daily bread. It reduced Africa to the mere status of a jungle, and made people like me almost, ashamed to be called Africans.
While I applaud the efforts of organisations like UNICEF, for constantly advertising the plight of the less privileged African mothers and children. The world needs to know that Africa is not hungry. Africa is not helpless. Africa is not a dying child looking for help. Africa is a giant, which has just failed to take giant strides, due to sheer mismanagement of resources and greed among its people.
America has beggars, hungry children and poor people too. Have you ever seen them in the news? England has its fair share of the poor too. Have you ever seen them in the news? So why is Africa’s poverty so magnified by the press that it overshadows its progress?
The world needs to know the Africa I know. The one that is bursting with potential. The Africa that is full of intriguing culture, intelligent people and ancient wisdom that will make even minds like Einstein’s stop to think. The Africa, that produced minds like Chinua Achebe and heroes like Nelson Mandela.
Africa might not be running the race of development as quickly as other continents. Africa might be taking baby steps towards development, but it is MOVING FORWARD. I am not appealing to the media to perpetually paint a beautiful picture of Africa, but they should be fair in their assessment. And not just tell one side of the African story. The media should be careful, not to keep painting the picture of Africa the victim. But should concentrate on painting the picture of Africa the victorious.
For one to truly see the beauty in Africa, One must continually look through the lenses of HOPE. And I am very hopeful.
Photo Credit: frenchcultureguide.com
Chiamaka O. is a writer, lover and law student. You can follow her on twitter @YellowIgboGirl or check out her blog, http://yellowigbogirl.