How does the media affect our view of the World? aka Does anything good happen in Africa?

The following post is the result of a ten minute challenge to find good news about Africa. Often the continent of Africa is portrayed as being one place, rather than 62 territories and the news is often very negative.

During the challenge, which took place on 29/9/10 between 11:35 and 11:45, a group of 12 students were able to find stories on the following which we considered to be positive:

– The appointment of the first female taxi drivers in Cairo.

– The record for the world’s largest T-Shirt has been broken in South Africa.

– SASOL, a South African company has made the world’s first flight on exclusively synthetic jet fuel.

– A computer model has been developed in Kenya that can predict outbreaks of malaria in East Africa.

– Two species of frog previously though to be extinct have been found alive in West Africa.

Given the amount of good news coming from other continents, it was felt that this does not constitute much in the way of good news. We decided to do further research into good news from Africa……

The first thing we found were two specialist websites which seemed to share our dismay about the lack of attention paid to good news from Africa, they are; Good News Africa and Africa – The Good News

among the stories we found interesting were:

Zimbabwe: Tourism Sector Scoops International Award

Zimbabwe has received an award declaring it as Africa’s fourth best tourist destination in Guilin International Tourism Fair in China. This award has come as Zimbabwe has put more money into marketing and portraying there country as a nice place to go globally, sometimes even through celebrities on TV programmes.

This shows that some parts of Africa are becoming desirable and also shows that countries such as Zimbabwe are attempting to re-structure their economy via stable business such as tourism. The award is said to have been derived from the efforts of celebrity host programme ‘ZTA’ and global recognition is being attained for example at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, Mr Chagonda stated that Zimbabwe’s exhibition hall was filled with many potential investors. Zimbabwe is finally making an impact internationally.

UN ends sanctions on Sierra Leone

This article is about the UN ending their sanctions on Sierra Leone after an arms embargo was placed on the country after its 11 year civil war. The 15 member UN Security Council voted unanimously in favour of dropping the sanctions showing Sierra Leone is moving away from its bloody past and will be able to focus more on development. This is evidently the best news for Africa in recent months as it is leaving behind its image of cruelty and bloodshed which has held it back for so long. Finally the world can accept that it is no longer a threat militarily and it shows the country itself is progressing in the right direction. A very poor country that is in desperate need of an improved tourism industry and being able to banish its tainted image of the past. Allowing the people to live in peace and happiness . And now the government can focus on improving the quality of life and GDP. This country is in dire need of your support and it is down to you to change the image of not just Sierra Leone but Africa.

Computer model can help predict malaria outbreaks

On the ‘africagoodnews’ website, for me the most capturing article was the malaria article concerning a new computer model that predicts disease outbreaks in a region 90 days in advance. I found it most interesting due to the relevance of it in reference to the world and its troubles; a major problem in our world is that of deaths by malaria. With this computer model one can predict and so have 90 days to prepare for the supposed outbreak of malaria. This could save thousands if not millions of lives. Visually, this article was most captivating as it is the main and first article of the website and this also implies that it is generally thought to be the most important and interesting.

Interestingly, about 8 months after our initial investigation, DFID launched a website of positive news about Africa, asking us to See Africa Differently.


How do maps affect our impressions of reality? An example from London Underground

If you are asked to imagine the London Underground layout, this is probably what you visualise:

However, this fly through from DigitalUrban shows things in a different and more realistic way:

In contrast, this “flipped” version of the tube map shows how connected the south of London would be were the outline of the tube network rotated on an east-west axis: