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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Man In The Mirror

I encountered him at a recent trip to the airport to pick up a post Accra vacation Shrimp. Very agitated as he walked into the throng at the arrival lounge, he broke free and made a beeline for me. Funmi right? Yes right. Look Funmi, people listen to you and you have got to do something about all these people who paint Nigeria bad outside of Nigeria. They ruin all our work (he owns a tours and travel coy). What happened l asked as my eyes continue to search the crowd whilst my mind sighed at this unofficial ombudsman thing. I just came from SA he continues and there was this stupid Nigerian on SABC who was saying bad things about Nigeria, people like him should not be allowed on TV and countries whose stations air them should be sanctioned by Nigeria! I smiled inwardly at yet another expression at our militarization, then explained why that approach would be puerile as l caught a glimpse of an energy force hustling towards the door. The Shrimp was here.

I remembered him a few days later when l read a newspaper report that the Nigerian government is planning to ban or sanction foreign news media and TV channels who air bad stories about Nigeria and consider severing some levels of relationship with countries where such emanate. I laughed as l was clear in my mind that someone out there was just exercising his or her vocal cords in the presence of a friendly journalist. The mantra of the business of new is "if it bleeds, it leads." Bad news sells, especially bad looking news from a country that you already have a poor opinion of. Same bad news sticks because few other kinds of news or story or movie is coming from a multiplicity of other directions especially from within that country in formats and techniques that meet basic standards of journalistic ethics, creative ability and technological flexibility. We will never get balanced (dislike that word which has come to mean rabid censorship and influenced fence sitting) view of Nigeria from sources outside of Nigeria. Frankly it is not part of the business of media to be fair. It is however part of the business to report, analyse and serialize everything and anything from a myriad angles in vibrant global media environment. Translation, if we tell our own stories, analyse our own news, produce our own movies and distribute our own information with intellect, creativity, wit, knowledge and applying increasingly cheaper but effective technology we can have alternatives to the current stream of unending bad stories. However it is true that a lot of bad does happen and its no use asking that juicy bleedy news be ignored by those who profit from it. We must face the task of fighting corruption (l stand with those who believe that corruption should become a capital offence, it is mass murder), entrenching the rule of law and its enforcement, building infrastructure and capacity, reducing inflation, increasing access to non crippling credit, job creation as well as holistic education, agriculture and health reforms which are the building blocks of a prosperous society. That way, some of those bleedy stories will reduce automatically, a lot less of our people will go into economic exile and you know what, we actually wont care so much what the rest of the world's media chooses to say because good news travels quick and fast. Ask China and India.

On this issue of Nigeria's bad international image and world's unbalanced views of Africa, the latest edition of Farafina is a must read. I particularly like Yemisi Ogbe's piece. It is guest edited by the deliciously smart (firmly on the list of younger men l want in my virtual harem). The magazine gets better with each edition.

4 comments:

catwalq said...

1. There is no smoke without fire. Most of these stories are based on truth. I mean, what would I say to someone who got funding from German nationals to help develop solar power in Ibadan and when he brought them to come visit the proposed site and all, they were picked up and beaten. Imagine what those people will say about this country. Are they lying? I am not sure. It is such a probable scenario. But is that all that happens in this country? No.

2. The only way to do that is for us as a nation to conduct ourselves in a becoming manner. Don't do crime. Don't bend rules. Don't steal. Don't kill. Don't be corrupt. Build and don't destroy. I don't see how if we practice these tennets, we can be portrayed in a manner other than the positive that it will be

3. Our government and their sanctions...the ignorance is irritating. I mean, is it the same people who are misappropriating millions for their personal use and exchanging blows on television that will tell me that they are an authority on the proper image of this country? I am tickled pink

Ammee said...

"Translation, if we tell our own stories, analyse our own news, produce our own movies and distribute our own information with intellect, creativity, wit, knowledge and applying increasingly cheaper but effective technology we can have alternatives to the current stream of unending bad stories."

I fully agree with your statement Funmi Iyanda.

@ Catwalq, your statement here:
"2. The only way to do that is for us as a nation to conduct ourselves in a becoming manner. Don't do crime. Don't bend rules. Don't steal. Don't kill. Don't be corrupt. Build and don't destroy. I don't see how if we practice these tennets, we can be portrayed in a manner other than the positive that it will be"
You and I know that there is not a nation/people in the world that does any of the things you propose Nigeria should do and which does it without fail.

Americans steal, kill and everything else and they do it with very refined means and technology. But why is America known as God's own country and the "most bestest" country in the world? I propose that it is because their popular culture is world culture. Their own propaganda is the most prevalent in most countries in the world. They create their own news and spread their own propaganda to the ends of the world. So much so that the most popular culture in the world is American culture.

I think as Funmi says, we as Africans need to make, and disseminate our own propaganda about ourselves.

TRAE said...

you're right, the only way to stop the negative vibe is to get our acts right by dealing with corruption. after then we won't even have to as much as whisper to get them to talk about our new good vibes. you're firmly on the list of women l want in my virtual literary harem, lol.

Salewa said...

I think we can focus more on the positives than the negatives but the thing is that we as Nigerians even highlight the negatives. If we cant see the positives in our country, how can we expect anyone else to?

Incidentally, I just stumbled on this clip in response to a question on youtube that had Nigeria's Fola Adeola. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6WCZFj7Tfg (question & response from clip 57.25). I thought this man was part of the Nigerian establishment(I am a socialist so I dont respect capitalists like him) but I was so impressed by his wit and the way he talked to the West. I was like yeah!my Brother! Give it to them! One day the Nigerian brand will emerge in all of its greatness.