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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Why this headline bothers me, despite the article contents: ‘Africa is a great country: Photos from a booming land’

The first tweet that popped up on my twitter feed this morning was this one :

FP

                     

                                   

 

It immediately got my hackles up and I tweeted back something appropriately scathing about Africa being 54 countries – without reading the article I will admit.  Factually incorrect headlines tend to provoke such behaviour in me, and since this is generally quite a serious publication, I did not for a second think they were trying to be ironic.

@letlapa37 then tweeted back saying ‘Read the article to the bottom Tracy – it’s not great but it does make a point!’ And so I did (a little begrudgingly)…                                                                                                    I was surprised (and pleased) to find that it was about a photo exhibition aimed at countering this myth of Africa being one country, illustrate the great diversity across the continent and encourage people to look at Africa with new eyes. The headline still really bugs me though.

My issue with it? I have a few.

  1. Since it leads with a series of photos, most people will not read the article below, and so the photos and headline are what the majority of readers will be exposed to. While this may change their view of the continent as simply one of famine and war, it does nothing to further the goal of showing Africa as a diverse continent made up of 54 countries. Nor does it in anyway illustrate that the headline above is ironic. Is the fact that the irony of such a headline is so easily lost sad? Of course, but we know this perception problem exists – hence the need for the exhibition in the first place. These reasons are also the reasons I write this blog, unfortunately not even close to enough people globally understand the reality of Africa as a continent to get the joke.
  2. The exhibition is being held in Sweden and 3 African cities (ironically not specified) so it’s not like all readers will have the opportunity to take time to engage with the issue first hand and be exposed to all its nuances. This again brings us back to point 1, that most people will only see the headline and photos and take these at face value. The exhibition name is not of concern for me exactly because of the time to engage mentioned above. The participant is involved for long enough to create a context that very clearly underscores the name’s irony. It’s this lack of context that makes the headline irresponsible for me.
  3. On a slightly more technical note, the text of this article appears under only the first photo. So if at some stage during your viewing of the slideshow you do happen to scroll down (and let’s be honest that’s most likely at the end, if at all) unless you’re on photo 1, the only things that will appear on your screen are the misleading headline and a photo. Refer back to point 1.

So sadly while the intention of the exhibition exposure may have been good, this piece (specifically its headline) is for me counterproductive to the goals of the exhibition. Perhaps even guilty of a little of the behaviour they describe in the article…

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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Opinion

 

Cape Verde’s Good News

Cape Verde's Good News

BBC News Africa. 2012. ‘Cape Verde profile’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13148486

Brown, C. March 2013. ‘Cape Verde prime minister talks of his nation’s progress’ http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130331/NEWS/303310340/1001

Index Mundi. 2012. ‘Cape Verde’ http://www.indexmundi.com/facts/cape-verde

Macauhub. November 2012. ‘Cape Verde with highest internet access penetration rate in Portuguese-speaking Africa’ http://www.macauhub.com.mo/en/2012/11/13/cape-verde-with-highest-internet-access-penetration-rate-in-portuguese-speaking-africa/

World Bank. 2011. ‘Cape Verde: Life expectancy at birth’ http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.IN/countries/CV-ZF-XN?display=graph

World Bank. 2011. ‘Cape Verde: Country Brief’ http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/AFRICAEXT/CAPEVERDEEXTN/0,,menuPK:349633~pagePK:141132~piPK:141107~theSitePK:349623,00.html

 
 

(Some) African kids changing the world

1) Kelvin Doe

Kelvin Doe is my hero and the most inspiring person on the planet in my book. He’s only 15 but recently became the youngest person EVER to be invited to MIT’s ‘Visiting Practitioner Programme’. His claim to fame? His incredible ability to turn trash into batteries, generators and even radio transmitters. Completely self-taught, he has used these skills to create a community empowerment radio station, which he runs as “DJ Focus”. But despite his genius he is incredibly down to earth, humble and the sort of person we should all aspire to be. Be warned, this video is the most motivating and heart-warming I’ve ever seen, tissues will be required!

2) Richard Turere

A 13 year old Maasai herdsman from Kenya was losing his family’s livestock to lions from the nearby Nairobi National Park. Rather than trying to kill the lions, like most people in his community felt forced to do, he used incredible resourcefulness to invent a solar powered lighting system that now protects the cattle from his own and several other villages.  By providing a different way of protecting the cattle, he has also done a lot to help the lions.  By safeguarding human lives, protecting livelihoods and building harmony with the natural environment, Richard shows us how little it takes to come up with completely new solutions when we truly pay attention to local circumstances.

3) Nadege Iradukunda

Nadege is an 18 year old Rwandan who is dramatically reducing the cost of running schools by setting up bio-digester plants. A bio-digester plant uses natural biological processes to converts food waste into energy! The plants help schools in Rwanda not only to reduce their environmental impact but also to save on heating and lighting costs by as much as 40%.  This in turn makes education much more affordable and accessible to more Rwandan children. Since the inception of the project she has overseen the deployment of 15 bio-digester plants, serving more than 15000 students.

4) Ludwick Marishane

This 17 year old South African is no stranger to invention, and when in Grade 9 (12 years old) he even invented his own bio-fuel! The invention featured below is called Dry-Bath and is a way to properly cleanse your body without using any water. Ludwick says he specifically invented this for the millions of people across the world who don’t have enough access to clean water, and so help with the prevention of diseases such as Trachoma. Beyond this though, he sees this particular invention as a way to save water, protecting and preserving this scarce resource.

5) Laetitia Mukungu

Laetitia (18) founded and steered to success the Women’s Rabbit Association of Kenya. After a volunteer teaching stint she realised that the biggest impediment to quality education was a lack of funds at home, which impacted on the schools’ resources and even affected their ability to provide uniforms and stationery. She decided she needed to start an income generating project and decided on rabbit breeding! Watch this to find out why she chose rabbits, as well as how 15 families have been transformed by this one inspiring individual.

6) Miriam Nsekonziza and Precious Nyabami

Having only very recently been announced as the winners of a regional science, technology, engineering and mathematics competition (March 2013) little information is currently available on these two 17 year old’s achievements. What is known is that their study can be considered, in the inventors own words, ‘as a major breakthrough in the wake of concerted efforts by the government to ensure access to clean water for all households in the country.’ Their studied covered methods of tapping of rainwater from rooftops.

Rwanda article