“E je ki a maa so oro naa…”

Africa's Voice!

I grew up listening to the local radio and TV stations, but when I inched closer to the age when you got curious about news and happenings beyond your borders, my elder brother introduced me to VOA. Then BBC crept into my life, CNN followed — and in the wake of my Arabic interest, Al-jazeera reared its sharp head. The major worry I kep having was the need to understand why news about Nigeria or Africa had to come from outside our shores before it could be regarded as authentic. I know that almost all newsrooms in Nigera monitor the “big few”, and that explains why you see major headlines of national dailies follow after the earlier reports of CNN, BBC, AFP and others.

In fairness to African broadcasting, one must however note the role that the likes of NTA, SABC and others play. But how objective are the items on these networks (but is there really any objective news?) The height of this was when some airline disasters happened late last year. Most Nigerians trusted the foreign networks for reliable news, while the incidents wee actually a few miles away from such homes. When will Africa start reporting Africa? In the battle between the hunter and the hunted, the one who lives to tell the story is the “owner” of history. Part of the reason why many Africans assume the role of “inferiors” is because of the lack of our historical pedigree! Civilisation has its roots in Africa, and iur sons and daughters keep feeding the world with innovative creations in times of need.

In the next few hours, I hope I can lay my hands on one of those articles that make your head “swell” (as it is often said here) when you read them. Till then, let me share some great news with you. Received from Chifu through the Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA-Africa) mailing list, this article says that Africa will start telling her own story by March 2007. You can get the entire story by following this link, but let me share some few inspiring lines with you:

  • “African will within a year be having a television network reporting on the continent for the world. Leading business people, broadcasters and journalists have modelled the new network along the lines of Arabic satellite network, Al Jazeera. Salim Amin who is the head of the group said the aim is to tell the African story through Africans. African Television is to raise an initial capital of 35 million US dollars. The network aims to go on air from March in 2007.”
  • “We want to show the success stories as well as the failures, and show there is more to us than famines and wars,” he (Salim Amin) said. “We need to remind ourselves, as well as others, that there are people here who are contented with their lives. My father always talked about how important it was for Africans to receive news from other Africans.”
  • “Driven by this vision of Africans reporting on Africa for the world, a group of professional broadcasters, businesspersons and reporters is pulling their resource together insetting up a Pan-African satellite television.”
  • “My vision is to give a more balanced view of Africa by Africans rather than by foreign correspondents,” Amin told Reuters Wednesday. “The way the international 24-hour news machine works the big networks have a lot of other big stories that need to be covered and they can’t devote the resources that I believe are necessary to cover Africa properly,” he added.
  • “The new African channel, which is intended to combine the reach of CNN with the agility of al-Jazeera, will have small bureaus in 50 countries across the continent staffed by well trained local journalists. The channel would begin by airing around six hours of news a day, and eventually turn into a 24-hour news channel. With the cost of broadcast technology falling rapidly, it is also easier to start up a news channel on a lower budget.”
  • “With those few bureaux you can’t really be everywhere, and what they do concentrate on is the big news stories and they are unfortunately usually the ones about war, famine, corruption and HIV,” he added. “We are not here to do PR for Africa. But we want to balance the hard news stories with stories about the successes on the continent—the people, the fashion, the entertainment, the sport, the music,” he added.

But while we wait for this great news that could once again remind the world that the pyramids of Egypt were not accidental creations (but deliberate efforts announcing the uniquness of a people), blogging keeps our fair documentation of Afrcan stories intact. I often tell people that no one can lie about me even after I’m long gone because all facts are documented on my hard drive, my website, and other yet-to-be-announced locations 😉 With more Africans blogging by the day, one can be sure of reliable information on Africa and by Africans within the news space. Fellow brothers and sisters, keep blogging!

E je ki a maa so oro naa, ki ariyanjiyan ma baa sele lojo ola! That was in my local language (Yoruba), and it means, “lets keep speaking so that there will be no arguments in the future”. That explains why my blog is titled “Oro” (word). In the days to come, our words will speak for what we stand for — and the fruits of our many labours will also stand by the words.

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