Pulse of the Motherland (a poem on African media images)

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 55 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 belly protruded
And it’s these convoluted characterizations
That have helped create 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 positive portrayal of who we are
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 that 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 must 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 take control of 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 must now show the world
How proudly we will stand!

***Purchase musical version on iTunes.***