You get the drift; the euro is finished, and the Eurozone economies are in the throes of death. If that had been a cover on an African currency, say one of the East African shillings, there would have been mini-riots, accusations of racism, and how the “Western media always portrays Africa negatively and callously,”
The coverage of the euro crisis in both the Western, African, Asian, and Latin American press, has been ruthless. Every day for the past one year, if you are interested, you will have been fed on headlines and discussions about how the euro is history.
And of course, the basket economies of the Eurozone, especially Greece, have been beaten almost to death. The jokes about lazy, tax-cheating Greeks seem to be endless. I was listening to a BBC programme on the Greek financial crisis a few weeks ago, and some Germans were being interviewed.
One of them went on about how the Greeks were punching above their weight when they joined the Eurozone. That they shouldn’t have been admitted, because the truth is that Greece was a Third World country whose only useful export was olives. He then chuckled and said the world can never eat enough olives to get Greece out of its mess.
Again, imagine if a German had said that about some ramshackle African economy. Accusations of, even, Nazism, would have been rolled out.
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The way various media have covered the Eurozone proves that the idea that there is a Western media conspiracy against Africa, is bollocks. The media the world over behave largely the same way. We love winners, and suck up to them. Most of us are obsessed with rich and beautiful people, sex, and scandal.
Also, we are all largely barbarians who mock losers and kick them when they are down. Doesn’t matter whether it is a black, brown, yellow, white, or green journalists, we have a common tribal instinct.
I have argued before on this page that the reason I don’t take the “Western/international media perpetuates a negative image of Africa seriously” argument is because we African journalists report the continent largely the same way as the rest. And we are perfectly entitled to flog Africa for its failures and errant ways.
However, the idea that Europe is grown up and secure in its skin so it can take whatever is thrown at it, while Africa can’t and needs to be covered with “sympathy,” is unbearably condescending and patronising.
It is treating Africans and Africa as the early missionaries and colonialists did — as children, not grown-ups. In 2000, the Economist had a cover that called Africa the “hopeless continent.” To this day it is still being excoriated for it. In two weeks, few will be debating Newsweek’s euro “Finito” cover.
But look what Africa did. It cleaned its nose, and these days you get headlines like “Africa roars,” Africa rising,” and so forth. Seems the tough love helped.
*Charles Onyango-Obbo is Nation Media Group’s executive editor for Africa & Digital Media.