A friend of mine recently returned from Ghana. It is a country about which I know very little (though I’m now reading a number of interesting bloggers based there.) She spent ten weeks travelling around the nation – though little in the crowded capital, Accra – and arrived back with tales of beauty, wonder, large HIV infection and bemusement at Western ways.

Like much of Africa, Ghana is generally ignored in the Western media and sadly Australia is no exception. Unless a humanitarian disaster befalls an impoverished country, the African continent is ignored. The ABC has one correspondent there, who is presumably supposed to cover the entire continent. The Murdoch and Fairfax press have no permanent staff there. The underlying racism of this position is not lost on many Africans. The growing divide between the first and third world will inevitably lead to a clash of civilisations, but not in the way many imagine.

There is growing frustration in parts of Africa that we in the West seem unwilling to hear African voices, listen to African concerns and discuss African stories. The first world believes that the land of plenty will last forever. The third world wonders when their time will come.

My friend brought me two Ghanaian newspapers: The Ghanaian Times and the wonderfully named, Daily Graphic. A common theme is corruption and the political elite’s disdain for the “common man.” The Graphic’s editorial on Friday August 26, 2005 was about “Moral Bankruptcy”:

“The unvarnished truth is that many adults are worried about the moral bankruptcy among the youth today”¦It is true that some children have a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde existence. In the house, they may be sober and responsible but their behaviour outside the home may be disgusting.”

One article discussed the “Battle for [the seat of] Odododiodoo”:

“Mr Kojo Asafoatse Nii Mankattah, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate for Odododiodoo, has called on the electorate to ignore the vile and disruptive campaign being mounted by his opponents and vote for him. He stated that because his adversaries did not have any good message for the people, they had resorted to cheap messages such as “I am an illiterate” and “cannot speak good English.”

News about the Iraq war featured prominently in both papers. “Americans growing fatter” was the headline of another story.

HIV/AIDS was a recurring theme. A story by Eunice Menka offered a slightly optimistic note:

“With inflows of donor monies into development countries to fight HIV/AIDS, including President Bush’s $15 billion initiative and the Global Fund for Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, there are now possibilities of scaling up prevention activities to stop the spread of the pandemic and also prolong the lives of infected persons through access to treatment.”

Under the “Heroes of our Time” banner, the Graphic featured a story about the scientist Dr R.E.G. Armattoe:

“Civilisation began in Africa and spread through the Mediterranean to Europe centuries ago. However, Africa has always been treated as if it was a continent of uncivilised people. No wonder Africa was called the Dark Continent. Dr R.E.G. Armattoe (Ralph for short) of Gold Coast debunked all those beliefs and proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Africa had one of the greatest scientists who could also be compared to any of his European counterparts.”

A fund-raiser to fight poverty is advertised under the headline: “In Africa, a child dies form extreme poverty every three seconds. Each time you click your fingers.” It sounds like a local Live8 and undoubtedly more useful.

The world is a wonderfully diverse place. Our mainstream media prefers to pander to our prejudices and fears and ignores the vast majority of the world’s population in the process (when was the last time South America or Africa was discussed in depth in the news?)

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