During the flight from Amsterdam, we flew over Sudan from North to South, I think we even got relatively close to the troubled Darfur region. When I looked out of the plane window, all I could see was desert with one or two rocky hills, there was no evidence, at that height, of the problems that are still going on there. Sudan is one of the few African countries that is occasionally mentioned in the U.S. news, recently South Africa and Zimbabwe have also made the news thanks to the terrible things happening there. It reminded me of an interview I heard recently with a Nigerian actor/director. He was saying that the west has the perception of Africa as a place of war, famine, disease and poverty. He has a point; Africa is very rarely in the U.S. news unless some disaster (natural or otherwise) has occurred. But then again, Africa is really not the only region with this status, I can’t ever remember hearing the name Myanmar (or Burma for that matter) on the news before the cyclone a few weeks ago. Really, if it’s not happening in the U.S., Iraq, Afghanistan or China (mainly because we’re so afraid they will replace us at the top of the pecking order) it is passed over by the evening news in favor of the latest celebrity or political gossip.
As I’m typing this, I am watching Aljazeera. In the hour that I’ve been watching, they have reported news from North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Seeing coverage like this makes it clear how internally focused we are in the U.S. and how much power the media has in our culture.