Africa often gets very bad press, and many people are already used to that. Very often the reasons for the negative publicity are real disasters such as the heartbreaking conflicts in the Central African Republic and Angola, or incessant acts of terrorism in Nigeria and Kenya.
Some other times, Africans feel that the Western media is being biased by desperately looking for and focusing on negative news in the continent, and blowing minor issues out of proportions. There are various conspiracy theories about plans to keep Africans demotivated and therefore inferior.
You often get the impression that there is so much adrenalin to be obtained by looking for the most remote and underdeveloped areas and the most inhumane living conditions and capturing them on the camera for post honeymoon viewing.
In some circumstance, ethical considerations seem to be abandoned such as when people’s photographs are taken without their permission or when hunger-stricken, barefoot and topless children are asked to pose for a picture without first getting a grown-up’s consent. You wonder the motivation for placing such a picture or that of destitute, bare and dry breast mother clinging to her dying malnourished child, on the front page of a Western newspaper.
Many Africans naturally feel a sense of discomfort at such imagery, and are often outraged because they are seen as either insensitive, biased, or promoting a supremacy agenda. While I agree that many Africans are entitled to feel that way, I think there are however a lot more reasons to be even more outraged and I want Africans to be really outraged for the numbered reasons I will list below. Instead of being apologetic, let’s get outraged enough to act.
1. I am more outraged that many well-to-do Africans including high ranking government officials will walk past this barefoot malnourished boy and not blink a bit, and that it would take a visiting Westerner to find that abnormal and worth taking a picture of.
2. I am more outraged that after those pictures have been published in a Western newspaper, no African (including me) has contacted the editor to find out the name and location of the boy so that some help can be organised.
3. I am more outraged that this little boy may be living in the world’s 8th biggest oil exporting country, and that some government officials must have embezzled money meant for his education, or that there are other more pressing priorities such as travelling round the world to parties.
4. I am more outraged that this boy might be living in a country where it is considered brave or even risky to send him to school because some terrorist groups in some areas of the country are against “Western” education.
5. I am more outraged that this little boy might have been prevented from getting the required free vaccination that can save his life because some ignorant, grey and wrinkled men harbour some conspiracy theory that the vaccination is a Western plot to cause impotency.
6. I am more outraged that it would take a former British Prime Minister to come up with a Safe School Initiative that will increase the likelihood of this boy getting his education in a peaceful environment.
7. I am more outraged that it would take the president of France to organise a Peace Summit in Paris so that this country can talk to its neighbours and seek a cross-border solution that will enable this child to get his education in a peaceful environment.
8. I am more outraged that the woman in this picture may have been raped and left on her own with no laws and law enforcement to protect her, but her government is more concerned with apostasy laws and anti gay marriage laws because they want to stand up to the west.
9. I am more outraged that the government may not have any records whatsoever of this barefoot boy, the destitute mother, or the malnourished baby, and that honestly they do not care.
10. I am more outraged that the destitute woman may be on the run from her parents and community because she is at risk of being stoned to death for having a child out of wedlock or for trying to marry someone of the wrong religion.
11. I am more outraged this little boy or even the woman may have been declared witches by their communities and have been excommunicated.
12. I am more outraged that these photos are real and have not been “photoshopped”.
13. I am more outraged that for the dying malnourished girl, there are people in her community who are more concerned about getting her genitally mutilated that about her going to school.
These are the things that cause me the most outrage. What about you?