Africa: Myths & Realities
While there are some popular and unthreatening images of Africa – smiling natives dancing and playing great music, safaris and exotic animals in a National Geographic wonderland – it is the negative picture which overwhelmingly dominates. The continent is virtually synonymous with destitution and misery. Ethiopia, Angola, the Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda are part of the roll call of war and destruction. For most Westerners, Africa’s realities are symbolized in photographs of emaciated children. Rarely are African perspectives heard. The whole issue of representation – who speaks for whom – is emblematic of huge disparities of wealth and power. Africa and its peoples are reflected through Western eyes. The original home of mankind is reduced to a place of catastrophe. Its accomplishments and contributions to civilization are ignored or distorted. Interview by David Barsamian.
Ali Mazrui was one of Africa’s most distinguished and articulate voices. He was born in Keyna. After receiving his Ph.D. from Oxford, he taught in Uganda for many years. He taught at the State University of New York at Binghampton. He was also the Albert Luthuli Professor-at-Large at the University of Jos in Nigeria. An advisor to the U.N. and the Organization of African Unity, he was perhaps best known as the presenter of the widely-viewed BBC/PBS TV series The Africans. He passed away in 2014.