Well-funded media and a well-developed arts and creative industry can go a long way in reshaping the narrative of Africa, noted experts at the ongoing National Security Symposium in Musanze district on Thursday, May 13.
It was during a session that discussed the media perspective in reshaping Africa’s narrative. The general consensus was that the continent should expect neither fairness nor accuracy when “our story” is told by others.
According to Frederick Golooba Mutebi, a political scientist who researches and comments in the media on regional issues, Western media organizations talk about Africa to the world simply because they are well funded.
“The foreign media are well funded and therefore, they tell us what is happening in Africa. They invest great resources and have a great reach in Africa where the African media do not reach,” he said.
“The same is happening with foreign academics. Our universities are not well funded so we don’t have a big reach on our continent. We don’t have enough money to study countries other than our own. What I know about Namibia or South Africa is from external sources. How accurate are those external sources? “
His main point of view was that “we will never be able to tell our own good story until we have” a medium that is well supported financially.
Arthur Asiimwe, director general of the Rwandan Broadcasting Agency, acknowledged that the media is a big money-consuming business.
“If we want to tell the story of Africa better, we need to rethink the way we invest money in this area. If you don’t think about investing heavily and strategically, it won’t work, ”he said.
Nonetheless, Asiimwe observed that in all its means and modesty, there are many good examples of African media doing a good job.
Arts and creation industry
Asiimwe, however, emphasized something else – not the traditional media perspective – which he deems critical enough to reshape the African narrative. It is the need to make the best use of the arts and creation industry.
Asiimwe, for example, noted how Hollywood became interested in the fake story of terrorist suspect Paul Rusesabagina as a hero who saved lives and created a film “to represent an African story”.
The “saddest thing,” he said, is that “we have not seen the arts and the creative industry” as an important source and resource for telling African history.
“The African narrative should not only be seen in the eyes of the mainstream media. We need to rethink how best to tell the story of Africa,” Asiimwe said, also noting that the war of propaganda and disinformation waged today ‘hui “is here in new media.”
“This is a serious threat to national security … when a story is turned around to serve a different propaganda interest, but the people of rural Musanze see it as the truth.”
Micheal Rubin, resident researcher at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, among others, shared his ideas on how best to counter negative propaganda and make the African perspective heard better in the West.
“Attack ideas but don’t attack people because very good people have bad ideas,” said Rubin, also editor of the Middle East Quarterly.
The current National Security Symposium, the eighth of its kind, is themed: “Contemporary Security Challenges: The African Perspective”.
It is organized by the Command and Staff College of the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) Nyakinama, from May 12 to 14, at the Classic Hotel, in the district of Musanze.
Its main objective is to deliberate on issues of national, regional and continental security concern. The second day was also devoted to a discussion of Africa’s technology divide in the context of growing cyber threats.