Friday, March 17, 2006

What's up with that?

So I was roaming through the net today, and I realized that I had failed in my duty to bring out important events that are often overlooked in the media here in the US, about Africa. I had not been informed - and I have myself to blame - that Ms. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, none other than the first, democratically elected, female African leader, and President of Liberia, was going to address a joint session of the US Congress.
BBC NEWS | Africa | Liberian leader wows US congress

"Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has become one of the few women to address a joint sitting of the United States congress.

In a speech which was frequently interrupted by standing ovations, she said US aid was helping to restore peace to Liberia and West Africa.

She promised to make Liberia 'America's success story in Africa.'

Liberia was founded by freed US slaves in 1847 and many Liberians see the US as their 'big brother'.

After her speech, congress promised an extra $50m in aid for Liberia, still recovering from 14 years of civil war."
Now as much as my next statement is a reflection of the extent of the power of neo-colonialism, this is a rare and important event for Africa as a whole. It is an honour rarely bestowed upon a woman in this country, let alone an African head of state. And so, in my awesome naivete, I ran out to go check the news channels, to catch images of the historic moment... ZIP, nothing, zilch. Not even a line in the tickers of CNN, MSNBC, or - yes I even went there - Fox News. Of course the speech - which was very eloquent - was available on parliamentary Cable channel C-SPAN (and you can watch it here, ou encore ici en Francais), but who but but a politics geek like me would watch C-SPAN?

And this is a perfect illustration of how the US TV-media deals with Africa. It is okay to show the starving kids, but when such an event as this one occurs in their own backyard - or actually frontyard, considering that is the Congress - then no one cares, it ceases to be newsworthy. And I had to go to the BBC to even hear about it... well not only there, all the African sources too. But none here. And then one wonders why some people here, think Africa is hopeless. That is all they get to see. And that is a damn shame.

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