March 15, 2008

How Do Africans See Us?

“Sometimes the police raided the beggars, but just for show, for Aburiria’s prisons were already full. Most beggars would have been quite happy to jailed for the meal and a bed. The government also had to be mindful not to upset tourism by sweeping too many beggars off the streets. Pictures of beggars or wild animals were what many tourists sent back home as a proof of having been in Africa. In Aburiria, wild animals were becoming rare because of dwindling forests and poaching, and tourists pictures of beggars or children with kwashiorkor and flies massing around their runny noses and sore eyes were prized for their authenticity. If there were no beggars in the streets, tourists might start doubting whether Aburiria was an authentic African country.” (p. 35)

“The foreign journalists were particularly interested in the scene, for they believed that a news story from Africa without pictures of people dying from wretched poverty, famine, or ethnic warfare could not possibly be interesting to their audience back home.” (p. 74)

From: Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Wizard of the Crow (2006)

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