New York Times’ Baz Dreisinger visits Kampala and indulges in a bit of lazy journalism:
It all made for a lovely evening, though hardly the one I’d expected in Kampala, Uganda. To many, after all, the East African country is imagined as more militaristic than MishMash-y, best known for its worst face: former President Idi Amin Dada, whose brutal regime from 1971 to 1979 was known for its abuse of human rights. But that was then. Now, after nearly three decades under President, Yoweri Museveni, the country appears to be stable and its sprawling capital is a dynamic metropolitan center, an ever-evolving hub of, well, art, culture and life.
Imagine if you will, the above paragraph rewritten about Los Angeles, replacing everything from Uganda’s horrific past with everything from LA’s “terrible” past as you attempt to “contextualize” the city’s urban visage.
There’s this underlying trend in traditional media about attempting to write about the New Africa by constantly comparing it to the Old Africa. It’s as if journalists can’t let go of the old narrative. It’s like talking about modern America in the context of slavery or its brutal campaign against the Indians, ad nauseam. Silicon Valley has come a long way in establishing America’s tech dominance, a nation that once nearly wiped out the entire Indian population as it expanded West.
As Africa continues to rise, it is going to be a challenge for traditional western journalism to divorce itself from a narrative that is almost automatic about anything Africa.
I actually liked Baz’s piece. It almost made me nostalgic for the Capital of Chaos. Kampala is a city well on its way to defining itself. If Janet Musisi, Kampala’s new no holds-barred Executive Director, has her way in transforming the city over the next few years, she may just give traditional media enough to talk about without them needing to resort to a history of over 30 years ago.