Close your eyes and picture Africa. What do you see? Starving children? Drought? Conflict?
If so, it’s not your fault. Quite often, it’s the only image painted by the media. Keep track of most mainstream news source’s coverage of Africa and you’ll rarely find anything other than stories of the impoverished and victimized. You would be even luckier if that same news section was updated more than once a week.
But the real problem is that the image just does not add up anymore. At the moment, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies are African countries. Investment in the continent is at an all-time high. Childhood deaths have been slashed in half in the past two decades.
There is no question that Africa is on the rise, and while there is still plenty of work to do, images of people with empty, outstretched hands begging for food still saturates the media. When will we begin to see a more accurate image of Africa’s growth?
However, we’re at a tipping point — and it’s beginning at The Globe and Mail.
Canada’s largest-circulation newspaper recently published a six-part series focused entirely on the future of Africa, complete with the economic and developmental successes the continent continues to collect, and the pitfalls and challenges that lie ahead.
Africa correspondent Geoffrey York spent months investigating Africa’s economic boom, traveling throughout the continent, from “Congo and Burkina Faso to Liberia and Botswana, talking to everyone from miners and farmers to factory owners and chief executives.”
York has compiled one of the most complete and balanced views of Africa that the Western media has ever seen.
Only a few lines into part-one of his series “Africa Next,” we realize how much the tone has really changed, learning that “for the first time in generations, Africa is receiving more investment than foreign aid.”
York paints a picture of the economic triumphs the region is making, telling the stories of the locals who benefit from the jobs and opportunities foreign investment has provided, as well as those caught in the crossfire of development by the inequalities a lack of accountability can cause.
This is not the first time the publication has devoted itself to in-depth coverage on the continent of Africa.
Back in 2010, The Globe and Mail handed over the reins to ONE’s own Bono and singer-activist Bob Geldof as guest editors for a day to focus the issue entirely on the unseen side of Africa.
But now, the paper is setting a new precedent, by honoring the African people with a clearer view of the continent, from poverty to promise, allowing the true stories and voices of the unheard to speak for themselves.
The Globe and Mail has taken the first steps in what we can only hope is a media revolution, complete with comprehensive coverage on the world’s poorest, in transition.
Africa is catching up, and it’s about time the media did too.