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Talks the Talk, but does it Walk the Walk?
on October 9, 2011
This is a worthwhile documentary to watch as it presents Africa in a new, energyzing way. Much applause is deserved for that.
The film tries to expose Africa in a way it properly deserves. It's rich past is acknowledged, and it's current troubles are explained using an array of opinions. More than 20 different people, mostly academics of one sort or another, participate. Also, as advertised on the cover of the film, we hear some interesting comments from Meles Zenawi (the Ethiopian PM) and Jacob Zuma (South African president).
The film's images are mostly from Ethiopia, and in particular relate to a celebration of the "Peoples, Nations and Nationalities of Ethiopia", one big parade that takes place in Addis Ababa where you can see the colourful people's of the country, their variety, their pride and cultural wealth.
So far, so good. But read between the lines (or, better, "look" between the lines, because it's a film) and some very disturbing aspects emerge.
1. A government minister from Zimbabwe appears, and he qualifies his country's Land Reform as "an unmitigated success". Controversial, to say the least. I can think of quite a few Zimbabweans who would challange such opinions (and not only White farmers, i'm referring to the thousands of landless peasants who have seem little benefit from the reform, as in many cases the expropiated land has gone to... to who? Not to them, that's all they know). Obviously they don't get the chance to voice such concerns on the film. A government that simply kicks out half a million residents of Harare for the terrible crime of "living in shantytowns" doesn't appear a very sympathetic government to me.
2. Gaddafi (oh yes, "him") is well praised for his courageous African Unity agenda. No mention that he trained, armed, and financed, the RUF rebels of Sierra Leone, or the rebellion of Charles Taylor, or was involved in the assassination of Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso. No, the film chooses to not mention any of that.
3. This is the most disturbing aspect of the film, and it's disturbing when you watch the film in Africa (in Ethiopia, in my case). Of the 20 or more contributors to the film, less than 5 are speaking from within Africa. Some academics, like Prof. Kimani Nehussi among others, mention the problem that "Africans see Western things as better, or as a solution to their problems". Right, i see...
This is said by a scholar who teaches at the University of East London, not in Addis Ababa University or Lusaka University. I can already smell the hypocrisy.
Such academics had a problem, "where to be a scholar", regardless of the fact if they were African-Americans or Africans or West Indian. As the film clearly, states, they are all Africans, and Love for the Motherland seems to be at the forefront of their aspirations. Or is it?
So why don't work in any African university, contribute to its build-up, instead of moaning on TV that we Africans should know better and not look at the West. Look who's talking!
A professor at Middlesex University's opinion is worth 5 min. of film, not the opinion of a professor at an African university. Some philosopher in Los Angeles can ramble on and on, but no philosopher in Africa is given a voice. Literally, only one gets a chance, a professor of anthropology in Ghana. The rest, living in the West, but talking about Africa, about what Africans should or shouldn't do. Patronising, at the very least.