Monday, December 1, 2008

Nigerians die- is anyone watching?

This morning I was watching France 24 news and they allocated just about a minute to the deaths in Nigeria, enough time to say 200 or more people have been killed in religious clashes in Nigeria and the situation is under control. I waited thinking that was just a headline but, no, that was it. No explanation just that. More Africans killing each other – old news, right? Or in other words- who gives a shit?


Meanwhile we’ve had non-stop news about Mumbai. I’m not saying the deaths in Mumbai are not horrific, they are. The point I’m making is where the media’s eye falls is something to dissect. The rich Indians and foreigners, or the poor black Nigerians? Which murders are more important according to the media? And how much do the media decide the worldwide answer to this question? Must I even ask?

In Jos Nigeria they estimate the death toll could be as high as 400 from clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs that erupted after local elections. Apparently the disruptions started after the results from local elections, which hadn’t been able to be held in more than ten years, were announced. The People’s Democratic Party was declared the winner, but the mainly Muslim All Nigeria People’s Party contested the results. The ethnic and religious divide of the people in the area helped to fuel the anger resulting in up to 400 dead and hundreds more injured.


I’m not even sure what I want to say except that many horrible things are done under the cover of darkness, behind doors, hidden from eyes. When the media picks and chooses where to shine the light, are they not complicit in some way? Yes, Africans should get their acts together, but Nigeria is a perfect example yet again of the ways in which leftovers from bad policies of colonisers still course in the continent’s blood. Those stray bits of poison incite some of the conflicts that look so puzzling and convoluted from outside.


I guess what I really want is for an African life to be equal to the life of every other human who walks this earth.


That’s all this is about.

7 comments:

Tania Hershman said...

You are so right. Sadly, this is exactly the situation. And, as someone on the opposite end, I am often embarrassed and ashamed of how much media attention Israel gets, a disproportionate amount compared to the rest of the world. The news media doesn't even attempt balance, so I don't watch, try not to listen. Yes, choices have to be made but when they are the same, year on year, you have to question why. It's all about ratings. A crying shame.

Lauri said...

But we must keep an eye on them, somehow keep them accountable; even if it is just by saying -this is wrong.

I watch and I rant. I even once sent a crazy angry email to The Oprah when she thought it was okay to show the faces of dead people in the DRC on her show. She the alleged lover of all things African, and yet SHE couldn't even see the prejudice. Did she show the faces of the bloated bodies on the streets of New Orleans on her show? Of course not.

As writers we must write about such injustice every time we're given a chance.

groovyoldlady said...

I know the BBC and NPR both covered the Nigerian riots. However, they didn't give them NEARLY the time they gave Mumbai.

Selma said...

The level of media bias at the moment is unacceptable. Tania has made a very important point about Israel. I have a friend from Palestine who lost two family members in one of the recent Israeli attacks and it wasn't even mentioned in the news. It was just another attack.

The news stations are meant to present news as objectively as they can, but they don't even come close. And I feel the lack of adequate coverage is reflected in the amount of aid affected countries get. Look how long Haiti has been waiting for aid and what about the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe ? It's an outrage. I feel so sad for all the innocent people whose stories are never told.

Lauri said...

In a follow-up and to confirm Tania's point, this morning on France 24 there was nothing about Mumbai or Nigeria. It is about ratings- people have no interest in knowing about what happens after. Look at New Orleans- they're still cleaning up, some people are still missing, but us outside of the area think it is all back to normal.

Selma, the situation in Zim is horrendous. It just keeps going from what you think has to be the worst to something even beyond that. Cholera is a deadly disease, you can die in hours. Imagine getting to the clinic or hospital and finding no antibiotics? It's a death sentence. People are pouring over the South African border, they have set up temporary hospitals to help. Now the cholera is spreading. We had two Zimbabweans in Serowe last week diagnosed with cholera, a disease not seen in Botswana. And it all goes back to Mugabe. About a month or so ago I read that they didn't have money to buy the chlorine tablets for the water in Harare. Now they've just shut it off. Imagine!Yes, Selma, if the media doesn't look, no body cares.

deola said...

The western media is obviously biased, now doubt about it!

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