In this issue (September 2006)
I was browsing Issue 34 of Development magazine , produced and distributed by the British government’s Department for International Development, when I found an article by Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina originally published in Granta magazine : “How to write about Africa”.
In his piece, Wainaina reveals, with a sharp, satirical humour, the clichés and stereotypes common when writing about Africa. Some of his critical remarks –supposedly, suggestions for writers- refer directly to development.
He says, for instance, “The Modern African is a fat man who steals and works in the visa office, refusing to give work permits to qualified Westerners who really care about Africa. He is an enemy of development, always using his government job to make it difficult for pragmatic and good-hearted expats to set up NGOs or Legal Conservation Areas”.
Or “Among your characters you must always include The Starving African, who wanders the refugee camp nearly naked, and waits for the benevolence of the West […] She must never say anything about herself in the dialogue except to speak of her (unspeakable) suffering”.
Wainaina is the editor of Kwani?, a literary and political magazine published in Nairobi. As John Ryle explains in his introduction to Granta’s issue 92, “The view from Africa”, Kwani? means “so what?” in Sheng, the language of East African hip-hop.
In the spirit of collaboration that is at the core of Glocal Times, we are proud to present our September 2006 issue, which focuses on Africa. Contributions in this new issue, as always grounded in communication for development and social change, reflect two on-going processes of exchange, cooperation and networking. The Memories of Modernity (MoM) project, bringing together artists and academics from South Africa and Sweden, and the Researcher Network on Media, Communication and Popular Culture in Africa , bringing together a number of scholars from different locations and academic venues. From MoM, Ruth Teer-Tomaselli analyses collective memory as expressed via the recollection of media events by different age cohorts in different countries as studied by the Global Media Generations project. From the Researcher Network, Hilde Arntsen introduces us to a series of five articles derived from the Uppsala Workshop held in June 2006 to kick off the network’s activities, capturing key issues raised during the seminar, contextualizing the field, historicising previous debates and initiatives, and looking ahead.
We thank researchers Mari Maasilta, Sabine Marschall, Nkosi Ndlela, Norbert Wildermuth, Mette Grøndahl Hansen, Stine Vikkelsø, Lise Grauenkær Jensen, Stine Kromann-Larsen and Martha Topperzer for their readiness to abridge and revise their original Uppsala papers for publication in this issue of Glocal Times.
We also welcome Malmö University’s graduates from the Master course in Communication for Development. Naomi Delap discusses the potential for sharing Uganda’s knowledge and best practices in HIV/AIDS prevention through communication. Louise Frykheden looks at the obstacles in terms of participation faced by South African women engaged in an Internetbased higher education programme. Clever Maputseni analyses the value of radio as a tool for advocacy among farming communities in Zimbabwe.
Please contact us with your comments, questions and suggestions regarding this issue of Glocal Times while we head for Rome to cover the first World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD). A new issue, further exploring communication for development and social change and related fields in Africa, and giving you an insider’s account of the WCCD, will be online in November 2006.