Reporting Africa In Western Media Style

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The film, “Darwin's Nightmare” which was filmed in Mwanza City on the Southern shores of Lake Victoria North West Tanzania, by France based TV journalists Hubert Sauper and Sandor Alexander under assistance of a local based journalist, has been awarded in Europe and the United States of America, since its launch in 2004.

The film, “Darwin's Nightmare” which was filmed in Mwanza City on the Southern shores of Lake Victoria North West Tanzania, by France based TV journalists Hubert Sauper and Sandor Alexander under assistance of a local based journalist, has been awarded in Europe and the United States of America, since its launch in 2004.

Despite these awards the whole documentary contains exaggerated information and events than what actually transpires in the Lake City. It is mainly full of cooked information aimed at fulfilling the wishes of its main producers and those who funded the project instead of analyzing the other side of globalization.

The film producer approached a news writer in 2003 with the aim of getting accurate information about the Nile Perch Industry and the future of the Victoria Basin. The writer agreed to help them because he wanted to learn more from these French journalists, who together with other writers all over Europe are regarded as serious journalists and because they claimed to promote the Nile perch in Europe, which consumes 80% of the product.

The presence of the local journalist assisted them in seeing and reaching various islands located in the Lake Victoria. This was a tough mission as some government officials claimed that foreign writers were not journalists but on a specific mission. At that time this was disregarded but now, it should be agreed that the governmental officials claims were collect. The whole documentary is full of so many fabricated information aimed at pleasing the audience in Europe and USA.

For example in the documentary it is claimed that the “presence of Fishing industry has caused the outbreak of street children in Mwanza with most of them eating packing materials used by fish processors to pack their fillets because the kids can’t afford to buy fish.” These materials are normally plastic, one wonders what happens when they are swallowed by these children.

In this documentary you can see street children gathered at Kamanga ferry area in Mwanza trying to cook their food with their faces showing sorrow and grief, but this is a fiction, which was directed and paid for by the authors of this documentary.

The facts is that all street children seen in this film cooking food were paid between Tshs 1000/- and Tshs 5000/- by the producers of the film and then directed to do what they are! doing paving the way for the guest to film what they then termed “striking images.”

The accompanying local journalist tried to query why they did that but never received a satisfying answer and decided to keep quiet. The launching of this fictious documentary has shown, how foreign journalists who come to Africa have been organizing and paying their sources in order to get the so called “striking images”

While the documentary was about globalization taking the Fishing industry as a case study, it failed to show the positive development caused by the booming industries. It decided to stick on one side of the coin in order to please the targeted audience in EU countries.

It is true that in one way or another the documentary has revealed the challenges facing the East African countries but the concern is that it failed to be fair and balance by sticking only on the negative impacts caused by this special called Nile perch.

This old trend of journalism has dominated the minds of most foreign journalists, causing misreporting of Africa to the rest of the globe. Today it is very rare to see faces of white men suffering from HIV-AIDS, and what you see on their TV stations is pictures of poor Africans screaming on the hospital beds.

It is the same story that while in Europe there is shocking number of brothels but at the end of the days we are told that commercial sex workers is growing rapidly in Africa because of massive poverty. But in Holland where the government has legalized the business, you won’t be shown anything taking place there.

In his paper “REPORTING AFRICA: RETURN TO THE AGENDA” presented at the University of Wales in 1998, Wilson Rutayisire, Director, Rwanda Information Services said “the way Africa is covered in the International media is not only charged with a partisan view but also responsible, to no small measure, for the perpetuation of prejudices that exacerbate Africa's problems.

According to Mr. Rutayisire, although the media coverage Africa receives is not the principle cause of the problems Africa faces, it provides the superstructure within which Africa is perceived and foreign policies on Africa are prescribed.

From the above basic reasons the documentary “DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE” does not present the true picture of the events but is meant to please those who sent the journalists to prepare it.

Click here to find out more on The Otherside of "Darwins Nightmare"

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Mike Mushi
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