EDITORIAL: Western labelling of Africa must stop
- Africa has continued to be labelled “a dark continent.” We have reached a level where Western countries and institutions unashamedly view Africa from a prejudiced and obscured prism, blatantly treat our people as second-class citizens, and only praise the continent when it serves their purpose.
“Until the lion learns to speak, the tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. This is an African proverb that remains relevant to this day. We often talk about Africa telling its own stories, owning its narrative, and crafting the vision it sees fit.
But alas, the African story is still being told by outsiders.
The characterisation of Africa in the Western world propagated by the media is mostly a result of the dark days of colonialism, the remnants of which can be traced today, and gives a false impression that Africa is isolated from the rest of the world and is forever a land of the primitive prone to war and chaos.
When the US embassy in Tanzania issued a security alert on January 25, 2023, alleging that “areas frequented by Westerners in Dar es Salaam and elsewhere in Tanzania continue to be attractive targets to terrorists planning to conduct attacks,” it felt like deja vu.
Worse still, the vague statement, devoid of any meaningful descriptors, might have done more harm than good to the security of the country.
In retrospect, whenever the US issued security alerts, we were more inclined to take them at face value because Tanzania believed that the “all-powerful” America was always right. But are they?
Africa has continued to be labelled “a dark continent.” We have reached a level where Western countries and institutions unashamedly view Africa from a prejudiced and obscured prism, blatantly treat our people as second-class citizens, and only praise the continent when it serves their purpose.
This has to stop.
What good has the KLM’s cautionary alert done to the peace and security of Tanzania and Kenya? To the contrary, the alert, which was rightly labelled by both the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments as “baseless, misleading, alarmist, inconsiderate, and unfounded,” has done more harm than good and threates to sever economic and diplomatic relations.
Worse still, the complete disregard and lack of respect for the Tanzanian government have been laid bare by KLM. And even after being fact-checked, the “omniscient” and “omnipresent” Western world chose to ignore the protests, sticking to its unfounded labelling of Africa as a war zone.
The irony is that Tanzania is one of the leading destinations for the airline in Africa.
So, why would travellers have so much interest in visiting an area prone to unrest? Tanzania deserves respect.
If the country’s security organs and government ministries dispute the false claims of a terrorist attack, why not give them the benefit of the doubt and engage them on a cordial level in order to avert needless panic? If at all that was the goal.
Although the airline has since apologised to Kenya for the chaos it created and has withdrawn the warning that mentioned the nation, it has taken a while for the company to express regret to Tanzania.
Even though they admitted that they used a misleading phrase, which is more of semantics, KLM has maintained its ground on how it chooses to label Tanzania, perpetuating a Western legacy that dates back to colonial days.
Tanzania’s government should take tough measures to protect the country’s pride. We should not submit as a sovereign state to those who undermine us.