People with history of how lowly the western powers (Europe and America) look on Africa would, with regard to the Cable News Network’s (CNN) released video footage of alleged Lekki shooting of the #EndSARS protesters by Nigerian soldiers, laugh and say: it so comes to pass, and reoccurs. I am not a historian, but I do not need to be one before I can understand its importance; that it gives us reflections of the past to relate with our present, and to guide our steps into the future.
To a nation, history is what judicial precedent is to a judge. Discussing Africa against this backdrop would lessen the intrigues we always have to deal with in understanding how well or otherwise the western world means Africa. The avalanche of claims and denials being traded between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the CNN is an important happening we should learn from, to manage one of the many angles of our tragedy of nation-building, Africa as a whole.
The West’s view of Africa began to manifest in literary forms, which portrayed the natural superiority of white race and culture and reduced Africa and its people to nothing but the dark world. A handy work of reference in this regard is Rudyard Kipling’s The White Man’s Burden published towards the end of the 19th Century, which asserted that Africa was hell of the earth, and made an appeal to the European powers to hasten their salvation of the Dark Continent.
In 1922, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness came and reasserted the same view driven by idealism, replete with prejudices and stereotypes. On the whole, the West influences the economic and political policies of African countries through the slanted opinions and disguised deceits of the so-called African Affairs experts who barely know the underlying character of the continent.
With the media revolution brought about by the present digital era, they braced up to make further exploits with ease, speed and greater latitude. In Nigeria’s case, I can substantiate this. Recall the horror of September 1966 riots in the Northern part of Nigeria! Thirty-seven years after its occurrence, Charles Sharp, the pioneer Editor of New Nigerian, disclosed in an interview, that the Radio Cotonou broadcast which incited the riots was a fake news spread purposely to achieve the terrible results it produced; and the America’s CIA was the mastermind. (New Nigerian, Monday, January 20, 2003). In this era, one of our tragedies of nation-building is our over obsession with the western media, which has made us ascribe infallibility to them. We are so gullible that we consume their reports without any momentous reasoning to view them with a pinch of salt.
It was western media that over-sensationalized our situation in their reports on fictitious humanitarian crisis during the civil war. Now this video has come as another salvo to further restate their uncharitable view of Africa, which has not started today and neither would it be the last. It has kept me immersed in thoughts of multiple possibilities. To begin with the Nigerian government, it is possible that they are hiding the truth in order to avoid condemnation from international community.
On the part of the CNN however, it is possible that they deliberately threw away professionalism to the wind, ran afoul of ethics and risked their reputation, to sell such a dummy to us, with a view to causing some calculated effect. This was simple to do if they weighed that the rating it would generate was worth the short time blasting. Given our penchant for the western media news packages, I dare say that they control our thinking, the majority of us. They have for long measured our gullibility to swallow their farcical beats hook, line and the sinker.
The western powers use the media as a weapon to serially launch campaigns of calumny against African leaders, thereby providing justifications for their playbook onslaughts on the continent―demonizing whom they dislike and immortalizing whom they like. This reminds one of Obasanjo’s appearance on HARDtalk with Steven Sackur on September 11, 2017.
The encounter that should be a simple personality interview to put things in perspective was turned to grilling by Sackur, being the prosecutor, the judge and the jury. Obasanjo proved tough and tackled the presenter by telling him that he (the presenter) would not dare be so unreceptive and judgmental with any European leader.
Many of us have not noticed how western journalists have over time created ugly lexicon to associate poverty, conflicts, diseases, hunger, dictatorship, corruption and lack of development with Africa, choosing to ignore our pathetic historical antecedents under their rule which is the cause of our present conditions.
To think that not even our domestic print media were astute enough to capture the true picture of what happened at Lekki is simply believing in the CNN’s omnipresence. It is an impossibility to press it on people that it was only the CNN on the scene at the time of the incident. It is also far from reasoning to believe that our domestic media houses were unable to cover the incident as much as the CNN did, or they have chosen to be economical with truth.
Though we cannot rely on the government-owned NTA to avail ourselves the truth of what happened, there were other private broadcasting stations such as the African Independent Television (AIT), which some people reputed as anti-government station, the Core TV, Galaxy TV and many more, even as the Channels Television and Television Continental (TVC) were temporarily off the air. Thank God, the BBC version of the event refuted that of the CNN’s.
On the strength of the foregoing stream of thoughts, one would dare say it is a turning of another page in their anti-Nigeria playbook. However, I find it hard to conclude that the CNN’s report was spurious yet, since Nigerian government has not made good its threat of sanctioning the station.
The government’s docile appearance like a toothless bulldog that only barks without biting is, for the time being, giving credibility to the station’s claim. And, even if the Nigerian government is innocent of the allegation, it appears to be on the defensive side due to its lackluster response to the altercation. Nigerians are keenly waiting for the federal government to redress the bad image given to it, otherwise the logical of the bickering is that the FG admits its guilt. As for me, my take on the issue goes, for now, 50/50 to both sides.
Said writes via [email protected]; 08039329260