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Making the Stories Heard…..

05 February 2011

“Until the lions write their own history, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”. The sentiment of this famous African proverb came out repeatedly during an interactive session with African journalists at Observer Research Foundation on January 24, 2011.

Giving a brief introduction about the South Africa based organisation Fahamu, Ms. Hayley Herman explained that the Emerging Powers in Africa Programme establishes an important stage for exchange of knowledge and experiences of African journalists. Fahamu was established in 1997. It is an African networking organisation that aims to bring African civil society together in order to advocate African perspectives on social issues on the continent.

Ms. Herman lamented the fact that the source of information about India in the African media was mainly from the western sources and same is true for the African stories in the Indian media. Hence, it becomes really important to ensure the networking among African and Indian journalists so that information can be extracted from original sources rather than relying on western sources and perspective. She said the information database on Africa for quality research is very limited in India and suggested that increased collaboration among institutions could help bridge this gap.

It was felt that the African media has virtually no representation in India. The scale of collaboration between Indian and African institutions needs to be expanded. Exchange of individuals needs to take place between institutions and media organisations of India and Africa.  India and Africa can learn a lot from each other. The paucity of information about Africa in India can be held accountable for the “cliché” image of Africa. There is a need to change this image and spread more awareness about the changing image of the continent. The continent is now experiencing the second Renaissance characterised by the expansion of democracy, economy, consolidation of African role in world affairs and increasing awareness about Africa. The media has the onus of changing African image and portrayal in India.  The Indian Diaspora in Africa and the African Diaspora in India can also play an important role in this. We need to leverage their knowledge and assistance, it was felt at the interaction.

The interaction ended on the note that more such events should be organised in future so that the collaboration between the media and institutions of India and Africa grows. This session was applauded as a positive step in this direction. Fahamu was interested in exploring possibilities of continued collaboration with Observer Research Foundation. This could be in the fields of exchange of journalists, academics and opinion makers.

The African delegation comprised of Ms. Hayley Herman, Programme Officer, FAHAMU; Mr. Mugambi Lee Mwiti, Senior Writer, Nation Media Group, Kenya; Ms. Irene W. Wamunyu, Lecturer, Daystar University, Kenya; Mr. Benon Herbert Oluka, Daily Monitor Newspaper, Uganda and Ms. Fazila Sherdad Khan Mahomed, Voice of America, Zimbabwe.

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