Our coverage of the Western media's biased reporting of Africa (NA, June) is still the talk of the town. Here, Samrin Siddiqui, an American Peace Corps Volunteer, says after living in Senegal for 10 months, he takes personal offence at the negative portrayal of Africa as a slight on the myriad movements for change taking place and the local people responsible for making them.
I just came across the June 2008 issue of New African and felt compelled to thank you for dedicating an entire issue to the topic of Western media bias against Africa. As a US Peace Corps volunteer living in Senegal, I am often at odds because I pledge allegiance and loyalty to a country (USA) whose ideals I strongly believe in and am a proud proponent of, and yet whose antagonising foreign policies, inequitable economic practices, and malicious media manipulation towards much of the developing world strike a chord of genuine disgust and shame within me.
I currently live in a village 30km east of the city of Kolda in southern Senegal. In a place relatively absent of media, I am forced to rely on my shortwave radio reception of the BBC World Service for daily information of world events.
Indeed, in my 10 months of service, I have heard countless stories depicting the abject poverty, chaotic elections, rapacious leaders, and wholly disorganised and often inhumane social systems that one is led to believe is the sum total of Africa.
While there is indeed truth in some of this (the same can be found in Western societies as well), I have grown convinced the issues this great diverse continent is dealing with are far more complicated than they are portrayed in Western media outlets.
The sensationalised stories serve to perpetuate the myth of Africa as fundamentally incapable of solving (especially without outside assistance) its social, political and economic problems. And at its worst, this misrepresentation leads to a...