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Ben Durham

Images of Africa
Curtis Keim points out many sources of information that
misinform but one that personally reached out to me was television
culture. Keim points out that although Africa is one of the most
represented areas in the world within American television, Africa is not
properly represented because a majority of those programs are nature
programs. Such programs depict wild animals, the on going battle
against poachers, encroaching agricultural needs on wildlife, and in
general a survival of the fittest motif fueled by a consciously selective
coverage of carnivorous animals such as lions, hyenas, vultures, and
cheetahs. Keim makes it clear that most Africans today never see such
animals as most live in towns or other dense populated areas yet today
there are still notions that most Africans live amongst these types of
animals in undeveloped rural areas. It is at this moment Keim makes a
decisive point in saying televisions preference for rural over urban
Africa is our ongoing romance with the exotic (Keim, Pg 17). In other
words, western urbanization and culture has curated a fascination with
wildlife and isolated cultures such as village life that exists in Africa. An
everyday modern African life seems lest interesting or exotic than what
the nature programs listed on American television will depict. I think
this source of misinformation is very significant because as an
American teenager, most of what I learned about Africa outside of the
classroom was learned watching TV, specifically on National
Geographic or Planet Earth. With millions of viewers on either network,
theres no doubt that the images depicted in these programs shape
many perspectives and understanding of African culture and reality.
Which brings me to my source of misinformation, National
Geographic. I need to be clear when I say misinformation as its not
the facts about the wildlife or about the habitat that is incorrect, rather
the extent to which the wildlife and exotic habitat are covered and how
that is all that is covered do not represent the way or place in which
modern Africans live. The image above this blog post is titled Hadza
Man under National Geographics images of Tanzania. Its not the
description or manner in which National Geographic presents this
image, its that they chose this image in the first place to represent
Tanzania and not a town or urban center. The hidden message here is
the inherent stereotypes and un-intentional racism that Keim so
carefully pointed out in his work. The idea that Americans and western
culture would rather see a Tanzanian Hadza in a desolate environment
in search of food instead of seeing Dar es Salaam, the largest city in
Tanzania is why so many Americans and westerners have
misconceptions about Africa, its culture, and its reality.

Nat Geo Pic:

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