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Africa: Publish or Perish

Africa: Publish or Perish

There is the growing need for Africa and Africans to tell their own stories in the way they want and how they want people to perceive them. My stay in Europe has made me to understand that people have very parochial knowledge of Africa. For some, it is even a country. Sara Palin, Republican vice Presidential candidate during the 2008 US presidential elections confirmed this. On the contrary, African school children spend their time learning about others.


The continent has been largely covered and represented in various media (books, radio, television etc) by people who have their own agenda and their own audience. This has led to the gross misinformation and disinformation of people about the continent. I may not blame some of those who write.


My University professor once said, “Anything that is not printed does not exist.” He is absolutely correct. But, most of what is written on Africa is either completely false or representation of half truths. Because of centuries of this kind of negative reporting, many Africans turn to think negatively about themselves and their continent whereas, they have a lot of potentials which they are not exploiting.

Valid opinions versus documented lies


In some of our efforts to tell what can be called the real stories, we have come to a confrontation of what I call valid opinions versus documented lies. Personally, I do not just read and believe what has been published, be it in the most respected media or by the most respected person in the world. Many who have the means to publish in most cases have misrepresented the continent. It may not be their fault though.


When I told one of my lecturers that more than 80 percent of Cameroon is covered by mobile telephone network, he disputed that because, he read in a book published some years back indicating that mobile telephone coverage Cameroon is deplorable.


Africans need to write their own books and make sure they are used in schools. Government website need to be constantly updated. It is rather very unfortunate that in some areas like Francophone Cameroon, over 70 percent of text books used are written by French people in France or publish there.


Africans must write their own books for African schools. Not even books on languages like French, English, Portuguese, and Spanish etc must be written by native speakers for us. We can speak and write these languages in our own way. The bottom line being that we, including native speakers, understand each other when we speak or write.


 An English man wrote that there are female chiefs in my village. That is completely false but unfortunately, this is what many English people think because the book was documented (published).



Africans need to copy from real revolutions like the American Revolution from Britain, French Revolution of 1789, the Iranian revolution of 1979 that led to the chasing away of the neo colonial Shah regime. What happened in the 60s described as the “wind of change” was really a pseudo one.


African journalists, sociologist anthropologists, scientists, historians etc, let us write our own stories. Politicians and leaders, let us learn to use our own local material, promote local research etc.


 It is completely nonsensical to keep on using “foreign” books when our sons and daughters can publish and some are doing so.

Journalists should not just relay stories from media without second thoughts. Let us make some research and independent commentary. We can relay the images. Let us at least, make our own words and add to them rather copy and paste everything as we work in the media.


We must then publish or perish. Let us not only write what our "funders/donors" expect us to write about Africa. Let us write about what can move our continent forward in all spheres. As we do so, the battle of valid opinions versus documented half truths and lies continues.

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