FOR the past couple of months, the skirmishes in Ukraine have been making international headlines.
From our very own ZBC-TV to France 24 and BBC, among others, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is currently big news, especially considering Russia’s position in the global economy.
Plenty of resources have therefore been channelled towards covering this crisis as it unfolds in Eastern Europe.
However, the current developments have brought to the fore the dynamics behind media coverage.
As acres of space and hours of airtime are dedicated to the conflict, of course with the tackled angles varying depending on the media house, it becomes clear that the bourgeoisie determine what the audiences consume and that the media is used to shape that agenda.
But then, who exactly controls media coverage in African media houses?
With the Ukraine fever gripping the whole world, what stops African media from singing about the conflicts that are closer to home, the famines next door and the women that are being subjected to abuse every day under the guise of cultural practices?
Africa is burning
In Africa, we have several ongoing conflicts, including those in Mozambique and the Sahel, the region just south of the Sahara.
With the global attention fixated on Ukraine, the cries of our African brothers and sisters are swallowed by the noise of the European gunshots.
Maybe, just maybe, the blood being shed in Mozambique is not as sacrosanct as that which is spilling in Ukraine; otherwise we would also get hours of coverage on how Al-Shabab is turning Cabo Delgado up-side-down.
Moving to the east of the continent , a civil war has been going on in Ethiopia for over a year now.
Rebels Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)are insisting on getting greater autonomy for Tigray, while Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed wants the TPLF to disarm and accept rule from Addis Ababa, hence the deadly stalemate.
Civilians are caught in between and deaths are estimated to be running into thousands as a result of the fighting, starvation and the lack of medical attention.
All the while, the media and the people look West.
Horn of Africa stares hunger in the face
With three rainy seasons not bringing any rains, estimates say at least 20 million people in four African countries – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia – are facing extreme food shortages as an exceptionally long and severe drought has gripped the Horn of Africa.
While this drought has been reported on in dribs and drabs, the story could do with more coverage because of the catastrophic levels of hunger the affected people are facing, especially considering that the Horn of Africais the most conflicted region in Africa.
A cursory web search on the drought ravishing the region will reveal that humanitarian organisations are reporting on the food insecurity situation more than any media house.
However, this impoverishment is really ironic because much of Africa’s oil reserves are untapped and are strategically located in the Horn of Africa.
Zimbabwe’s avocados to the world
Now that we are talking about food, let’s dwell on the avocado, that superfood that is widely grown in the Eastern Highlands.
Did you know that some restaurants from across the globe are advocating for a ban on avocados from their menus amid ‘environmental and land concerns’?
If you didn’t know, now you know.
The cafes are ditching the highly nutritious fruit amid claims that avocado production is linked to a loss of biodiversity, water shortages and deforestation.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the anti-avocado movement is in parts of Europe and the Americas where the superfood is not grown.
Yes, the mumbo jumbo is coming from the regions that import the fruit from us at a premium. It has been predicted that the trend to boycott avocados has the potential to become really popular in the near future.
While the debate ignited is great in that it gives us some time to reflect on how we get our food, it leaves a sour taste in the mouths of proponents of African economic growth because the superfood is one of the products that hold the key to our economic development.
For Zimbabwe, particularly the Eastern Highlands, investments are being made as we speak to spur avocado production and grow the UK and EU markets.
According to Trade Map, Zimbabwe is the fifth largest exporter of avocados in Africa, hence the need to keep those healthy fruits on the table.
While those advocating for the banishment of avocados argue that their production is water-intensive, they conveniently forget to mention that the fruit is grown in areas that already receive a lot of water.
In fact, it is grown in areas that are susceptible to torrents such that it plays a crucial role in preventing floods.
Speak up, Africa
The voices of developing countries need to be heard as their concerns and priorities shape their well-being.
As things stand, the global elite are benefiting from this broken international media system that chooses to highlight a few issues at the expense of what affects the majority.
Our own media needs to stop following the lead of the international media and simply grab the mic and tell the African story.
Under no circumstance should any country be viewed as more equal than the others.
Till next time, let’s chew the cud.
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