Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Literature, Media, Nigeria

Western media and lazy African reporting

We very rarely hear about Hausa writers let alone Hausa women writers. Here Hausa novelist Sa’adatu Baba is interviewed on CNN. However Talatu-Carmen tells us the translations leave much to be desired and once again assumptions are made about religion and traditions. It’s so easy for CNN and other media to report Africa in this way as no one ever challenges their mistakes or if they do they just don’t give a damn.!

It’s thrilling to see Hausa writing featured on international news, but I wish the problems with censorship weren’t simplified down to sound bites like “conflict with Muslim tradition.” (It’s also a bit funny to hear things translated–when the translation sounds very different from what the person was saying….)

Via Abubuwan da naki tunani

This kind of lazy reporting is also evident in the reports on the riots in Jos. Instead of acknowledging the complexities of such conflicts, they reduce every African conflict to “ethnic” or “religious” differences. – see here and here. Just possibly like people elsewhere in the world, could it not have something to do with people getting pissed off at being disenfranchised and cheated out of their votes? This is not to justify the violence but to consider the possible causes such as why the need to rig votes? Who wins and who looses out. Resources are scarce and the poor are set against each other by actions such as vote rigging.



  1. Thanks for pointing this out! I just left a comment on Naijablog’s about the danger of labeling conflicts as religious or ethnic. These conflicts are political conflicts, and I mean political in the broadest sense of the word. Nuances are lost once they are labeled as religious and ethnic conflicts, and, well, I think the solution is in the details.

    Loomnies last blog post..Lijadu Sisters

  2. Comment by post author


    Loomie @ Exactly! What bothers me on a broader level is that if these reports on Nigeria are so inaccurate in their analysis how do we believe what they report on other countries and events for which we know very little or nothing? I begin to feel that I cannot believe what these people write!

  3. first question, did you write back to CNN to challenge their simplicity and mistranslations? because they might actually listen to you and as well publish your comments..A while ago, the International Herald Tribunal (which is the International NYT) published an article dissing Thabo Mbeki as a sorry leader and one who will quickly be forgotten in africa and on the global scene..I wrote a missive to them challenging their assertions and was surprised when they contacted me with interests in publishing it and in fact did..

    Second, I heard BBC Focus on Africa reporting the Jos tragic event as bet “Indigenous Christians” and Settler Muslim Hausas”..My question, since when did Christians become indigenes in Africa? Christianity as we know it in most of Africa (and forget about the historical scholarship of origin in Africa)..the preaching and conversion was spread by white europeans and came after, how are Christians the indigenes….such absurdity of simplification!!

    d. lwangas last blog post..The UNHAPPY FALL OF A NOBLE STATESMAN

  4. one more comment…this issue reminds of the international outpouring to Amina people were pouring scorn on Islam…until Ayesha Imam and co wrote an international “enlightenment and rebuke of misguided advocacy”..people were lit writing to all Nigerian embassies with all sorts of vulgarity…in the end, it’s the Shari’a Courts through which the ruling of pardon (in favor of amina Lawal) was carried out

    d. lwangas last blog post..The UNHAPPY FALL OF A NOBLE STATESMAN

  5. Comment by post author


    d.lwanga @ first I am happy to see you passing by and back in cyberland. You got me there cause no I have not written to (not CNN) to the UK Guardian who generally are quite good at publishing letters so I do need to follow that up.

    Whilst there are sometimes tensions between Muslims and Christians Nigeria is on the whole very good at living side by side with these two religions. Again resources and poverty play a large part irrespective of religious persuasions. Its got a lot to do with the emonisation of Islam!

  6. Yes, it does seem that the fact that the Jos riots were sparked by political conflict gets forgotten very quickly in the international press. I recently stopped by a blog that incorrectly stated that the ANPP is a Muslim party while the PDP is a Christian party. That kind of information will unfortunately cause more problems. I tried to offer a correction, I can only hope the blogger took heed, but if they got that information from some ‘reputable’ news site, I daresay they will stick with that conclusion over any insight we could give.

    And of course, our government doesn’t seem to do anything to clarify things. How about someone going on record to clarify what happened?

    Oh well.

    Nothing will change until we Africans and like minded non-Africans, take the time to refute the stereotypical and often times condescending portrayal of the issues that concern us in the international press. I just visited femme’s site and she just talked about a recent post on Nigeria in a Brazilian paper. Has the Nigerian embassy in Brazil (which just ‘launched’ a glitzy cultural center) taken the time to counter that interview and the stereotypes it propelled? I desperately hope so. Nigeria’s Ambassador to the US would do well to have a press liaison officer contact CNN and offer a proper translation of Ms. Baba’s words.

    Thanks for this post and i came here by way of Loomnie.

    solomonsydelles last blog post..RELIGIOUS & POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN JOS