The 'New Africa': For Real or Just New Hype?

In a New York Times op-ed, Ioannis Gatsiounis says that the press emphasizes Africa's progress because people are tired of sad stories, but the positive reports ignore the continent's backward slide.

Posted:
 
kenya_nairobi_skyline_051512_400jrw
Nairobi, Kenya, skyline (Bloomberg/Getty Images)

In a New York Times op-ed, Ioannis Gatsiounis says that the press emphasizes Africa's progress because people are tired of sad stories, but the positive reports ignore the continent's backward slide.

Welcome to the new Africa, we’re told, ready for takeoff.

“New Africa” is an attractive sell. As editors have told me over the years, readers are tired of hearing the same sad story coming out of Africa. New Africa is about a miraculous triumph over a tragic past on the world’s last economic frontier, and that makes for vital reading. New Africa is also politically correct and safe: It comes across as sensitive and uncondescending.

But just as the global media tended to hype China’s and India’s prospects a few years ago only to discover that neither is about to take over the world, so the media are overselling Africa.

In fact, this hopeful, marketable portrait represents a fraction of the real Africa, and conflating the two works to obscure the backward slide taking place across much of the continent.

Read Ioannis Gatsiounis' entire piece at the New York Times.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.