Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Economist Magazine Gets Flack Over Negative South Africa Report; U.S. Debate By Obama/Romney Neglects Africa; Legendary Photog Alf Kumalo Passes
Oct. 23 (GIN) - A sensational cover story in the prestigious UK-based Economist magazine, provided a disturbing picture of South Africa in “sad decline.”
“It has made progress,” began the story sub-titled "Cry, the Beloved Country." “But South Africa is now going backwards.” A hodgepodge of new and old problems were blamed, including unemployment, inequality, education and ineffective leaders.
“It’s an easy kind of journalism,” observed Reg Rumney in the South African Mail and Guardian. “Make up your mind about the story and then find the facts to fit.”
Cry the Beloved Country, written in 1948 by South African author Alan Paton, highlighted the early roots of the racist system of apartheid.
“The Economist story was superficial, but then, much of the West’s perception of South Africa is superficial,” media commentator Wessel van Rensburg wrote.
“The Economist’s assessment is quite right, yes,” Wadim Schreiner of Media Tenor South Africa argues, but adds, “It misses some context and, like some other assessments of South Africa, it also ignores many positive developments.”
The country's presidency called the article “grossly incorrect” to suggest that South Africa is on a downhill slide. "While the country may have received a downgrade from two rating agencies, so have many other countries even in Europe and elsewhere,” said Mac Maharaj, speaking for President Zuma.
The South African “Daily Maverick” weighed in: “In its scathing assessment of South Africa, The Economist falls back on tired tropes about the ‘nature’ of Africans. What’s worse, the images it chooses to illustrate its stories reinforce stereotypes and affect how we view ourselves.
Nigerian novelist Ben Okri, in a speech last month at the Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, spoke of the existence of three different Africas: “The one that we see every day, the one that they (gesturing with a side movement of his thumb) write about and the real, magical Africa that we don’t see, unfolding through all the difficulties of our time like a quiet mirror.”
“it is the portrayal of South Africa in these articles (in The Economist), the careful process of selection and combination enacted by their authors and editors, that is retrogressive – the latest afropessimistic artifact in a long line of misrepresentation,” the Daily Maverick editorial observed. w/pix of South Africa "in sad decline"
AFRICA DROPPED FROM FOREIGN POLICY DEBATE
Oct. 23 (GIN) –With election fever moving into high gear, a final “foreign policy” debate between the Republican and Democratic candidates brought out their policy prescriptions for Asia, Iran, Russia and the Middle East. Sub-Saharan Africa, inexplicably, was bumped from the guest list.
Despite Pres. Obama’s wide popularity in Africa, almost nothing was said about the evolving relationship between the two giant powers - U.S. and the countries of the sub-Sahara - including trade agreements, corporate investments, security issues, and expanding military cooperation.
Mali was mentioned for a hot second by Republican hopeful Mitt Romney where this year soldiers trained in the U.S. pulled off a coup and ousted the President. This opened the way for a takeover by the indigenous Tuareg people in the North who were soon sidelined by a fundamentalist group that desecrated ancient tombs and installed “sharia” justice.
Also off the radar screen was a low intensity war against the Al-Shabaab Islamist group that has taken a toll on our allies Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia and sends refugees to our shores. U.S. advisors, private security firms, and substantial U.S. aid pour into the region, with debatable success.
Finally, neither the environmental crisis producing deadly drought, the uprisings by a restive labor force, no longer content to be paid a substandard wage, nor the unsustainable gap between the rich and the poor made it to the evening’s agenda.
Meanwhile, a Nigerian blogger on Lagosbooksclub wrote: “many Nigerians like me sort of liked the phrase NIGERIA FOR OBAMA,” but he confessed to being less impressed today. “Yes we have always liked democratic presidential candidates more …but for what reason?… On the other hand we also know that the republican candidate would have probably described 97% of Nigerians as victimized tax dodgers too.”
The blogger’s one hope? A Clinton run for 2016! w/pix of Pres. Obama and Ghana Pres. Mills
SOUTH AFRICA PAYS TRIBUTE TO LEGENDARY PHOTOG ALF KUMALO
Oct. 23 (GIN) - A self-taught photographer who captured the 1976 student uprising, the state of emergency during the 1980s, the unbanning of the liberation movements and the inauguration of South Africa's first democratic government among a host of other events, Alf Kumalo had a life well-lived and a career which spanned over more than 50 years.
Kumalo passed away on Oct. 21 from renal failure. He was 82.
"Alf Kumalo was more than a documentary photo journalist, he was, above all, one of South Africa's eminent historians," said former President Thabo Mbeki. "No one could contradict the truth of what he captured so competently through the lens."
Born in Alexandra, Kumalo made his name as a photographer for Drum, Bantu World, and Golden City Post where he provided the international community with evidence of the brutality of apartheid.
Ten years ago, Kumalo opened a photographic museum and institute at his former house in Soweto to share his photographic skills with young South Africans.
"The ANC and the people of South Africa are forever indebted to Alf Kumalo for being at their service and striving to expose a system that was inhuman," said ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu on behalf of the party.
The Nelson Mandela family wrote: "We are saddened by the death of son, brother and uncle, Alf Kumalo. May his soul rest in peace."
Kumalo’s work can be viewed through January 2013 at the International Center of Photography in their current exhibit: Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life w/pix of A. Kumalo
WESTERN OFFICIALS REJECT MILITARY MISSION IN NORTHERN MALI
Oct. 23 (GIN) - A military push to reclaim northern Mali from armed rebel groups is unlikely to begin before next year - despite reports of the desecration of ancient mosques by separatist Islamist fighters there.
An offensive by Mali's forces, supported by troops from neighboring African Union nations - but not Western countries – is still in the cards and scheduled to be discussed at a meeting of African officials in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Wednesday.
Groups including armed Islamist groups and Tuareg rebels have become the de facto rulers of the country's north following chaos sparked by a military coup in March.
A UN Security Council resolution to authorize the action could take months could take months.
Britain, Germany and France are offering only non-military aid including training for the nation’s armed forces, help with military logistics and plans for an election in 2012.
"The focus on the military discussion is not appropriate and very premature," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, adding that any military intervention now should be African-led.
France, which plans to move surveillance drones to West Africa and is holding secret talks with US officials on Mali, has pressed for quicker action, as have some African nations.
Last month, French President Francois Hollande called for an African-led military intervention in Mali "as quickly as possible". EU foreign ministers are scheduled to debate a proposed support plan for Mali on Nov. 19. w/pix of Malian rally against foreign intervention