A poem on African images in the media

Pulse of the Motherland

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover

But it has become appallingly clear

That you can judge an entire continent

By its media coverage 

You can color a whole continent dark

With the paint of poorly placed perception

When you rely on the media

To teach you your Africa lessons 

Because I come from a continent,

That the world thinks is a country

And to put it bluntly,

We’re all HIV positive

Until proven negative

In the eyes of the media 

It’s like Africa is either one big safari

Or Kalahari with seethin’ heathens

With no sense of religion

And home to animals and animism 

Because TV renditions of African afflictions

Have created a depiction

Of a land of savages

Where the world’s most dreadful diseases

Exceed the law of averages

And since American TV

Only shows the ravages of a select few nations

Most Americans juxtapose the mother of civilization

With phrases like “damnation” and “starvation” 

So if we don’t control our own images,

We can’t expect to see

A true representation of our beauty 

Most non-Africans believe that the most

Africa has given to the world

Are phrases like “Hakuna mtata”

And “Asante sana squash banana”

Along with exotic vacations in remote locations

‘Cause I’ve never heard an American TV news station

Even say we’re made up of 54 nations 

In the eyes of the media,

We’re just underdeveloped wannabe Caucasians

Still searching for civilization

If you buy the media’s interpretation

Of who we are

But am I taking this too far?  

Because to me,

The real problem be the WB, ABC, & NBC

Which are the real WMD:

Weapons of Mind Destruction 

Because too many people

Including many Africans

See what they see

Through the smart bombs they call TV

And it’s not just the newscasts,

It starts at age 3 

Because I grew up

Watching images of Bugs Bunny

Dressed in grass skirts and black face

Speaking in “African dialects”

And every 10 years,

There’s a new version of Tarzan on the TV set 

And I don’t know about y’all,

But I recall seeing gorillas pass for Africans

In those “Tin-Tin” cartoons

And if you remove

Marvin Martians’ helmet from Looney Tunes

He’s probably an African illegal alien

Or a fallen, faithless, famine-stricken African child

With his stomach protruded 

And it’s these convoluted characterizations

That have helped in creating grown-up policy makers

Who partially base their opinions of our homeland

From films such as “Congo”,

“Gorillas in the Midst” and “The Air up There”

And we can’t forget “Tears of the Sun”

Which left too many tears on the sons and daughters of Africa,

Searching for a beautiful representation

Of our native land 

But that won’t happen until we Africans

Take responsibility for our portrayal

Because the betrayal of our friends

From FOX, CBS, and CNN

Means we will never see-an-end

To caricatures of the continent of human creation

Which has been made to look

Like she’s on her deathbed

And ready for cremation 

But we will show the world

That our Mother Africa is strong, vibrant and defiant

Because the pulse of nearly a billion people can never die

When WE control what the world sees,

So we must never comply

To pictures painted by pessimists on TV of our homeland

For we are the pulse of Africa

And we will now show the world

How proudly we will stand!

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