Friday, May 09, 2014

"Africa: A Land of Contrasts" by Davy Brooks

Journalism's most cosseted White guy will now explain the deeper meaning behind the kidnapping of 270 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

Actually, no he won't.

Instead, like any schoolboy who finds himself suddenly on the hook for a book report on material he has never actually read,

Mr. Brooks' first stop appears to have been to the Wikipedia drive-thru window to arm himself with Many Interesting Facts.

Mr. Brooks then spent 1/4 of his allotted word-count quoting from a satiric essay explaining how to write patronizingly about Africa.

Then -- without citing a single example of this whatsoever -- Mr. Brooks complained that a few assholes on Twitter "some of the social media" are doing the same thing with this story:
There’s been something similarly distorted to some of the social media reactions to the Boko Haram atrocities over the past week. 
With his sturdy straw-man base-camp established, Mr. Brooks was then free to Villagesplain to his many readers that the Boko Haram atrocity isn't the real story anyway:
Boko Haram is not the main story in Africa or even in Nigeria. It is a small rear-guard reaction to the main story. 
Which is how Mr. Brooks ham-fistedly clawed himself back to that narrative posture where he is always most comfortable: in orbit high above the Earth, relieved of any responsibility to talk in human terms about anything real or tragic or corporeal, antiseptically reeling off his Many Interesting Facts which may or may not be tangentially related to the actual story at hand:
Nigeria’s economy grew by 6.7 percent in 2012.

Mozambique’s grew by 7.4 percent, Ghana’s by 7.9 percent.

Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is predicted to reach 5.2 percent this year.

In 2011, roughly 60 million African households earned at least $3,000 a year.

By next year, more than 100 million households will make that much.

Trade between Africa and the rest of the world has increased by 200 percent since 2000.

Since 1996, the poverty rate has fallen by 1 percent per year.

The first is the clash over pluralism. Africa has seen an explosion of cellphone usage. It’s seen a rapid expansion of urbanization. In 1980, only 28 percent of Africans lived in cities, but today 40 percent do.

The second is a clash over human development. Over the past decade, secondary school enrollment in Africa has increased by 50 percent.

The third is the clash over governance. Roughly 80 percent of Africa’s workers labor in the informal sector.
So what it the reassuring moral of our story?

That inside every African,

there is an American struggling to get out:
Too many of our images of Africa are derived from nature documentaries, fund-raising appeals and mission trips. In reality, Africa faces in acute forms the same problems that afflict pretty much every region these days.
Africa: A Land of Contrasts.

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