Viewing a People through New Lens

by Olurotimi Osha
Lagos Nigeria

I am watching a CNN reporter, broadcasting live from Lagos. His location is backdropped by modern buildings, modern cars and tarred roads. This is Lagos, a city in Nigeria, where I lived. I remember about 20 years ago, when media outlets in the United States were far from honest in their reporting “on site from Nigeria.”

Anytime there was any form of coverage on Nigeria, the cameras invariably revealed a swampy area, a lake by a forest, a chaotic babble and half naked frenzied or crazed individuals scurrying and darting around in obvious mayhem. It’s no wonder many of my classmates fantasized that I lived in a treehouse, ate the bark of trees for lunch, and talked with camels and zebras for best friends.

I never recognized any of the cacophony of frantic scenes, despite having traveled to a variety of places in Nigeria. In contrast, each time news on New York City – another place I lived in – is transmitted we are never taken into the heart of the ugly and neglected projects, the concrete jungle of Harlem that the once richest country in the world should be rightly ashamed exists in one of its richest cities.

All they show us of New York is the glitz and bright lights…you’d think everyone in America was rich.

An objective press should not color itself as a platform for propaganda. Such insidious propaganda supports and perpetuates stereotypes. Stereotypes that divide and subjugate humanity as a segment of human beings are unfairly misrepresented. What is the purpose of such propaganda in Western media? To advance white supremacy for one. To justify the continued subjugation of peoples via cultural encroachment among others.

Lagos Nigeria

Image: satanoid via Flickr

Indeed, there are parts of Africa that are certainly less developed than Lagos or Abuja, but all cities and towns do not have to be tarred with the same brush. A primary reason for news is to provide objective information to the consumer of news. And while the backdropped jungle scenes may seem trivial or irrelevant to the “substance” of the news, scenic misrepresentation is no less than fake news.

It is appropriate that Nigerian and African owned media outlets (not state-run apparatus of propaganda that once dominated Nigerian telecommunications) now serve as a counterpoint to foreign misrepresentation.

The Western media has come a long way on its path towards transparency, honesty, and balance in its reporting on Nigeria. Perhaps, we can be optimistic about the future of Nigeria and Africa’s representation in Western media: a representation that projects a more balanced view of our world, undistorted through jaundiced lens.


Image: satanoid via Flickr


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