Friday, December 09, 2005

Grappling with the Harshest Question

I recently subscribed to a Google Alert on news about Africa. Since I signed up (about a week ago,) 95% of the stories have been about South Africa, and this when there was a major earthquake centered in the Congo with reverberations as far as Nairobi, Kenya. I'm no longer curious as to why trying to learn about different countries in Africa is such a trying task. Memories of trying to find a book about Uganda when I was going to travel there for the first time in 2004 are coming back to me. Even Amazon.com took a full four months to get me just three books, one of which is spiral bound and another which is out-of-print.

My guess is that there is a correlation between the reporting and the distinctive void in academia on this continent in general. The information you can actually find is usually on South Africa or Rwanda. I would say it's just American academia, but these news pieces in the alert are compiled from many sources, indicating that this may be a more widespread international issue. Does no one study central Africa? Are there no reporters in these countries? Is no one interested? Is the last one the harshest question?

For Uganda in particular, I think things might turn around when people start paying attention to what's going on in the north. Treastises on Gulu within the next five years. Just did a quick search on "darfur" on Amazon...look at that, all you need is a genocide and suddenly people are paying attention.

I know this post is a bit snippy so I apologize. I get frusterated by the lack of attention paid to these millions of people. There's only press now because Bono started looking around and called some celebrity friends...how do you keep the spotlight on this continent without Westerners feeling like they're hearing the same story from chicken little all the time---even if the blue is crashing down...?

Maybe it's starting to get better. "Darwin's Nightmare," a new documentary about the fishing industry, Tanzania, and more generally, the economic exploitation of Africa and its deriviative social ills, looks like it might be an interesting watch. I can't vouch for it because I haven't seen it yet, but at least someone dug in...

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