Archive for May, 2012

Asinine Africa Coverage (19.368.965 and counting)

May 13, 2012

This is the kind of arrant nonsense masquerading as Africa reporting that irritates me no end. I only came across this just now so it’s late in the day. But I want to use it nonetheless to point at the utterly appalling levels to which reporting on Africa can sink.

Here’s the New York Times/International Herald Tribune with this stupendous opener:

On March 13, this supposed paper of record notes the following:

Since emerging as Africa’s first narco-state in the mid 2000s, Guinea Bissau’s slide toward instability has been swift and precipitous.

You got to be freaking kidding me. This is a country that went through a serious of coups, international armed intervention and a highly destructive civil war – well before the year 2000! So what do you call that then..

…a beacon of stability?

The opinion piece was written by a certain Davin O’Regan, who is presented as “a research associate at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington who specializes on transnational organized crime issues in Africa.”

Is it too much to ask for a little historical relief when writing guff like tis? Or was it the sub-editor? Does anyone actually care? This, I’m afraid, is doubtful. We are, after all, talking about the same paper that gives acres of spades to the likes of East Africa bureau chief and Africa-Clichée-Mongerer-In-Chief Jeffrey Gettleman. This gentleman also appears on CNN, a highly entertaining news network. Oh and in April he was rewarded for his efforts…with the Pullitzer Prize.

These are people that US policy makers pay attention to. Fortunately, they also rely on other sources for their info. If American interventions in African situations (especially of the military variety) only relied on the kind of imbecilic headlines I quoted above they would be even more catastrophic than they already are.

Stuff like this is on a par with CNN’s sidesplittingly catastrophic interview with Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe sometime ago. Remember that? Every wrong turn the interviewer could possibly take…yup: she took it. Piece of cake for dear old Comrade Bob.

So what the hell can you do? Shout until you’re hoarse? Tear your hair out until you’re bald? Bang you fists against the wall in screaming frustration? And then get carted off to a farm for white-fisted deaf-mutes with bloody scalps?

Well, for now I must alternate between wailing frustration at the idiocy of Africa reporting (a lot of which is NGO-driven, lest we forget) and just taking the piss. Today, I chose the former. I’d like to think that in future I can stand back far and long enough to be able to lampoon the inevitable next howler from these clowns.

Greetings from Bissau, May 13, 2012