The Story from Within

Let’s do the same for Africa and look at the best rather than the worst….by — Sam Smith

Signature Journal Senior Contributor, Sam Smith, and Angie Wanyiri. (September 20, 2015)

Growing up in the UK, the picture painted in my head of Africa as a whole continent is not what I have experienced in the five years I have lived in Kenya. From media coverage and how people talked, all one would think is that Africa is undeveloped, full of corruption, immensely poverty-stricken, and perhaps even as far as saying uncivilized. You can see how this happens through the content we consume. Sometime back, my wife and I watched a documentary about Zimbabwe after hyperinflation occurred. It was easy to come away from watching that documentary, thinking that Zimbabwe is a country that plays host only to despair; that is not the case.

It is understandable for content consumers to be ignorant of how the world is, but what is not acceptable is the willful ignorance of content creators, world leaders, and media outlets, exemplified during the coronavirus pandemic. For months articles have been popping up with international media outlets bemused at the lack of death in Africa; many predictions had been made about the millions of deaths across Africa. However, seven months after the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic and Africa is still nowhere near as badly affected as other continents.

You would have thought this could change the tone of the international media position on the coronavirus in Africa, but no they still haven’t got the hang of it. On the 2nd September BBC world posted an article title (headline now changed); “Coronavirus in Africa, could poverty explain the mystery of low death rate”. The BBC just can’t seem to bring themselves to give any praise to Africa. Contrast this to an Article posted by Winnie Atieno on Kenya’s Nations website, and you can see the benefit of having Africans writing about Africa:

The article details the measures that a slum in Mombasa took to flatten the curve, from increasing the number of handwashing stations, providing free sanitizers and masks, and checks at all entry points. The local response to coronavirus has proved highly effective and makes me question how deeply the BBC looked into the problem.

Let me tell you what I have experienced in living in Kenya during the pandemic. Firstly, Kenya took the threat of coronavirus much more seriously than the country of my birth. Boris Johnson was busy watching what happened in Italy and bragging about shaking hands with Coronavirus patients in London — consequently leading to a catastrophic spike in cases that have led to a recorded death toll of over 40,000 in the UK. On the other hand, it only took three positive tests in Kenya before Uhuru Kenyatta ordered all schools’ immediate closure in Kenya. What followed was the cessation of movement between central counties, banning of mass gatherings, closure of nightclubs and eateries and a 7pm to 5 am curfew.

It is clear that Kenya took the threat much more seriously, and to date, the recorded death toll stands at 597. Another factor that I believe is relevant is the higher levels of Hygiene in Kenya. Whether eating at a high-end restaurant or a small independent eatery on the road’s side, there is always a place to wash your hands before eating in Kenya.

In the UK, this is not the same. We don’t have the same level of dedication to washing hands before eating. Many restaurants, exceptionally fast-food joints, will not even have a sink for washing hands readily available.
The story of Africa can only be accurately reported from within Africa. As long as the “Africa correspondent” for international media stations is a white person with little experience of what the ordinary person goes through, we will continue to get a warped view of what Africa truly is. I encourage you to read articles by African authors to get an accurate picture. If you are an African writer from Zimbabwe, Mali, Tunisia, or anywhere else in Africa, I hope you get the platform to reach the world with your story. As a white person living in Kenya, it may seem like I am discouraging you from reading my articles. Still, I think the fact that our chief editor at Signature Journal is Kenyan increases my credibility.

I love Kenya and I have a lot more to say about the great things in this country That’s why I choose to look at the best of Kenya. On the international scene, we look at the USA as the land of the free -and not a country with a lack of healthcare for all. We often paint a picture of the UK as a financial hub and not a country with a mental health crisis.

So, let's do the same for Africa and look at the best rather than the worst.

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Signature Journal Afrika

Signature Journal Afrika

(SJA) is a platform that gives a voice to Africans in areas of Governance, Health, and ICT.