If you feel a news story does not measure up to expected journalistic standards, bring it to the Journalism Dry Cleaner. Through our collective wisdom, we will strip it of all offensive dirt.




Friday, 25 June 2010


Has Africa gone full circle from blaming the ills afflicting the continent on previous European colonial masters, to now yearning for their return and wishing they had never left in the first place? That is the latest imperialist propaganda being peddled by one UK media outlet.

A story featured in BBC's Newsnight television programme woefully attempted to suggest Sierra Leonians are almost begging for the return of Britain as a colonial master.

True, the UK played a decisive role in ending the Sierra Leone civil war that had torn the country asunder and exposed its citizens to untold suffering. So you would expect the same people to speak highly of the British, from the point of view of being grateful to their 'almighty liberator.'

But the reporter, Allan Little, seemed to go overboard in his quest to question the apparent satisfaction with neo-colonialism in Sierra Leone. A clear misrepresentation of circumstances in my opinion, to generalize an assumption. This is how he he puts it:

"It is more than 50 years since the British left Sierra Leone and the country embraced independence, while the whole of the continent of Africa freed itself from the shackles of colonial domination. But now Sierra Leone wants its former colonisers to return with more help."

He seems to especially find delight in repeatedly asking Sierra Leone's Finance minister, whether the country is happy with the way Britain is once again dictating the political affairs of that West African state, and 'feigns' disbelief, when the minister says the former colonial master should even exert more influence.

In other words, the BBC reporter appears to be on a covert mission to glorify colonialism and deride Africa's quest for self-determination and independence from the British Empire imperial domination. It's almost like saying the struggles for independence were in vain.

Isn't it it ironic and amazing that the widely experienced and critically acclaimed Allan Little can belabour the point that many people in Sierra Leone cannot find a way out of poverty and prescribe British solutions, at a time when the UK is grappling with unprecedented economic difficulties and is in the process of implementing austerity measures to manage it's budgetary deficit?

Saturday, 19 June 2010


Away from the World Cup matches in South Africa, many UK journalists covering the global event, have been filing human interest stories. The trend has been to focus on blacks in the post-apartheid era. There's a missing link in the stories though.

Apartheid was not just about the subjugation of the majority black South Africans by the whites. It was also about the whites lording over the blacks and using their military might to sustain this abomination.

So it's all well and good to showcase the reflections of blacks and how they finally subdued the apartheid monster after four decades of a dedicated struggle. But that is just half the picture.

It would also be immensely interesting to find out how the whites are coping with the loss of their historical and despicable political domination in South Africa.

Critics might rightly argue this would open up racial wounds that the country has been struggling to heal in the post-apartheid era. But isn't the risk there as well, when telling the same story from the blacks' point of view?

Somebody needs to tell the world if at all the whites have truly shed off their mistaken superiority aura in a typically black man's country. Are they suffering from any hangups of domination or are they genuinely repentant and willing to integrate?

The last time I was in Cape Town, I had a strong feeling that racial inequalities still existed, despite the dismantling of the apartheid regime. I never did come across mixed marriages or even a case of dating across the racial divide.

So yes. we know the blacks are still struggling despite taking over political leadership. But a little insight into the ordinary lives of white South Africans, on the sidelines of the World Cup coverage, would be a welcomed change.

Friday, 11 June 2010


My heart skipped a bit. A feeling of sadness engulfed me, as I went through the sports news headlines of a recent online edition of Kenya's Daily Nation,  "Green sharks devour students." My brain had focused on the violence implied, not the metaphors .

The reality of course was different and the story was in fact about an international hockey tournament, where a team going by the name Green Sharks had defeated another from Strathmore University.

Similarly, one is also bound to find sports news headlines like, "Cops now all out to arrest tormentors," in  reference to yet a another hockey team from the Kenya Police.

And another somewhat morbid sports headline screams, "Ngige slays Rwandan in Sudden Death." Now metaphors aside, how easy is it for one to decipher that that is a golf story?

Why is there so much emphasis on the use of negative words denoting some sort of violent confrontation, when it comes to reporting sports stories?

What happened to the plain speaking team A has beaten team B or team C lost to team D? The meaning would still be intact without the battlefield references in sports.

But apparently, sports is a passionate engagement, which calls for a certain heightening of emotions, when its being reported in the news. The excitement apparently stems from the suggested aggressiveness.

And some sports like hockey, it is said, are inherently aggressive, which sportswriters mimic when doing articles about them. One can only hope the reports don't end up inciting or glorifying violence. But headlines like:
"The champion slayer of Paris"
...............still scare me, even if this one is in reference to the tennis court heroics of Robin Soderling at the French Open.

Let's see what kind of sports news headlines will be churned out by those covering the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa.

Friday, 4 June 2010


It's the Brazilian footballers, who put the beauty in the beautiful game. And now their national team can afford to charge hefty appearance fees, before playing other countries. But what if the team is playing, or rather dealing with countries with not so robust economies?

Take Zimbabwe for example. Still smarting from having the world's worst rate of inflation, the country still dished out nearly 2 million US dollars for the 'once in a lifetime' opportunity to play Brazil, the world's top ranked football team.

The economic hardships notwithstanding, the state even declared a half-day public holiday and President Robert Mugabe and Prime minister Robert Tsvangirai joined the 60,000 strong crowd at Harare's National Stadium.

According to the Zimbabwe Mail online edition, the cash-strapped government is already being taken to task for what some argue is a gross misrepresentation of the country's immediate priorities.

But perhaps even more distressing is the revelation that Zimbabwe's national football team was stranded after the match, with no available transport to take them back to their hotel. One player was quoted saying:
"It is so frustrating that we are now being dumped like this when we are being used to make millions for them."
Bongo country pays up Brazilian Samba appearance fees 

And now the Samba Boys fancy footwork cash machine is headed to Tanzania for another 'friendly' warm up, as it tunes up for the World Cup, in South Africa.

The move is being hailed as a great achievement by the East African nation, even though record prices for the match tickets are being anticipated, specifically with a view to offsetting the huge appearance fee going the Brazil way on June 7th.

Indeed, there are inherent benefits in playing Brazil, especially when one considers the international exposure for the players or global publicity for Tanzania. The match after all, is expected to be broadcast live in 160 countries.

Whether this is commensurate with the cost of bringing the famed Brazilian footballers to Dar es Salaam, is probably always going to be debatable.

But I just can't help but wonder whether the overly commercial approach by the Brazilian Football Confederation is the way to go in its sort of uniform and generalized manner.

Brazil's football team, in any case, is comprised of extremely wealthy individuals and the team is also getting valuable training, for all its worth. Must 'poor' countries be charged the same 'pricey' rate for the Samba delight?