Lying Media Bastards

January 22, 2006

Western Media Bastards

I meant to post this earlier in the week. The author dissects the common stereotypical coverage that Western writers and journalists give to Africa. Actually, he doesn’t just dissect them, he knocks these conventions to the ground, slices them up the middle, deftly removes each organ, and holds it aloft, pointing out the shallowness, the sensationalism, the racism, the contempt, the condescencion, the wicked glee, the self-congratulation, the arrogance…

A taste:

Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress…

Throughout the book, adopt a sotto voice, in conspiracy with the reader, and a sad I-expected-so-much tone. Establish early on that your liberalism is impeccable, and mention near the beginning how much you love Africa, how you fell in love with the place and can’t live without her. Africa is the only continent you can loveā€”take advantage of this. If you are a man, thrust yourself into her warm virgin forests. If you are a woman, treat Africa as a man who wears a bush jacket and disappears off into the sunset. Africa is to be pitied, worshipped or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed…

[Thanks to Nik for the tip]

Posted by Jake on January 22, 2006 4:34 pm


  1. wow, awesome post. thanks!

    Comment by lotus — January 23, 2006 @ 4:09 pm

  2. Last year I read former-Peace-Corps-idealist-turned-soft-core-travel-writer Paul Theroux’s memoir of his journey through today’s Africa.

    The title? …“Dark Star Safari.”

    How many rules does that follow?

    And Theroux is supposed to be one of the *better* voices!

    Good grief.

    Comment by N — January 25, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

  3. nice bit of irony, but has it occured to you that Africa may indeed be a basketcase with no hope of ever becoming economically stable, respectful of its people, and peaceful? whatever it is, tribalism, climate, genes - that just seems to be the case as facts speak for themselves. Sometimes things are just as bad as they seem, on some continents life sucks more than on others - and Africa is a lost case in any forseable future.

    Comment by adam — January 31, 2006 @ 6:50 pm

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