Tunde Leye: Reporting Nigeria – What is good for the goose (Y! FrontPage)

by Tunde Leye

tunde-leye1

Why then does the media find it so convenient to report events about Nigeria in prisms and narratives of Muslim North against Christian South, or Oil Rich Niger Delta or Hausa-Fulani North? Borno, at the epicenter of Boko Haram’s assault has a 25% to 30% Christian population.

The Event
On Sunday, June 23rd 2013, twenty white ranchers in Dallas, Texas banded together with another one hundred men and went into ten black churches and another five that had mixed congregations. They had carefully planned the attacks, and one of them, a rich oil millionaire had chattered a plane to take them out of an old disused airstrip across the border into Mexico before the police could rally to engage them. The only police detachment that had any engagement with them was overpowered quickly, leaving three cops dead. Within thirty minutes of their attack, they were in Mexico, and they had uploaded carefully recorded footage of their attack on the internet, describing themselves as The New Democrats, committed to bringing back the ideals of the south during the civil war back to the United States.

The News Reports
Today, exactly 148 years after the last shot of the bloody American Civil War was fired, a new group of southern Americans reignited the long concluded war with a daredevil attack on multiple black churches and mixed congregations in the predominantly Democrat Texas. America is divided with the Democrats who historically support slavery and from whose ranks the ranchers who struck today came dominating the south, and the more moderate Republicans who fought for emancipation in the north.

The south was behind the north in industrialization and was much poorer than the north after the civil war, and it has never quite caught up. While wealth is more evenly spread in the north, the south has a sprinkling of very rich oil magnates and ranchers and much poorer majority, supplying the rich southerners with a vast army of underemployed poor youths.

It is not known where the group that struck today, who called themselves The New Democrats, became radicalized with antique antebellum ideologies, but what is known is that they were heavily armed and have fled across the border to drug war torn Northern Mexico which is a haven for such armed groups.

The Democratic Party of the United States, who have a sitting president in the White House have dissociated themselves from this new group and condemned the attacks in strong terms. They have also warned political parties from using the situation to stoke political fires, even as the Republican Governor of Texas has expressed shock at the events and condolences to the families affected. He further asked the Democrats to curb radical elements in their fold, reminding them of the terrible human cost of the hard fought civil war.
While slavery is long gone in the United States, there are those who feel that the segregation that the civil rights movement helped to remove should be returned and this sect is growing daily especially in the predominantly Democrat south.

Let’s Understand
I’m sure if the average Nigerian or foreigner reads the fictional news reporting of the fictional event above, it will sound absurd. The south is no longer all Democrat and the civil war and slavery are no longer such driving issues in America. There are newer, more complex issues in the polity, and even with acts as detailed above, American news media would usually dig in all angles to fully understand the situation, the individuals that perpetrated the act and every other thing that has to do with it. The reporting is probably likely to be more balanced, especially since the perpetrators are American citizens.

Why then does the media find it so convenient to report events about Nigeria in prisms and narratives of Muslim North against Christian South, or Oil Rich Niger Delta or Hausa-Fulani North? Borno, at the epicenter of Boko Haram’s assault has a 25% to 30% Christian population. Most of the middle belt, classified along with the Hausa-Fulani north, as well as most of Yobe and Borno are not Hausa. The fact that Boko Haram draws heavily from the Kanuri ethnic group, while Ansaru, the newer group is made up mainly of Hausas doesn’t seem to echo the need for deeper insight into this matter with the media. Hence, many times, when I read the reportage on Nigerian issues, while I appreciate the risk the reporters take to get these stories many times, I cannot help but think haba! With the way many of them are couched to fit stereotypes. The media, local and foreign needs to move away from reporting that plays to and reinforces single stories, to understand the complexities and details of the issues they are reporting. They also need to report on the perpetrators as people, human beings, and not merely as vehicles of the display of the traits the stereotypes dictate. Otherwise, every time I read the reports they must have worked hard to obtain, one word will come to my mind – absurd!
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The Ekiti people spoke loud and clear on Saturday with their votes. One must commend INEC for an election that all have accepted as free and fair. Now, for the governor to switch from electioneering mode to governance mode. I’ll share details of my thoughts on this election and how it relates to 2015 on Friday.

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Tunde Leye tweets from @TundeLeye

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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