Africa\'s Image Abroad

Published on 1st November 2005

King Otumfuo Osei Tutu the Second’s lecture on \"Chieftaincy and Development in contemporary Africa: The Case of Asante,\" in the United States reveals the increasing  positive image of African values in the global development process, more so reflected in the potency of values of the Asantehene. Ever since Africa\'s encounter with the colonialists in the 18th century, she has suffered bad image abroad and has been described in all sorts despicable ways - \"primitive,\" \"basket case,\" among others - by people who did not know and understand Africa .

If values are images, Africa\'s values were not heavily employed in her development process; colonialists\' made Africa have the most imposed foreign values in the world. Most African governments that came after the colonialists did not show any remarkable development creativity but continued, largely, with the Western imposed development paradigms. As a result of this, African values have been wrestling painstakingly with the colonial values, creating confusion and crises of confidence and self-esteem in her development journey.

The Asantehene\'s international efforts in selling Ghanaian/African values is helping to right many a historical image of Ghana/Africa abroad. The ex-colonialists are increasingly coming to the conclusion that they misunderstood and damaged Africa\'s values and are working to right them. Western international donor ventures such as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) are increasingly becoming sensitive to African values and the development process in their work. The World Bank, one of the key fronts of Western development paradigms, is not only telling Africans to mix their colonial legacies and their indigenous values in their development process, but on the ground is engaging in African traditional institutions such as its development dealings with the Asantehene.

The Western media, globally dominant and for long a key source of wrong images of Africa in the world, are balancing their reports about Africa\'s progress, becoming much more objective and listening to African voices on the ground instead of the so-called armchair Africans or African experts. Headlines such as \"Africa\'s Future\" and \"Africa\'s Anguish\" in Canada\'s \"The Ottawa Citizen;\" \"History of Ending Poverty\" and \"Africa: now for the good news,\" in London, UK-based \"Guardian Weekly;\" \"Africa\'s Poverty: It’s not really about money\" and \"Debt is bad, but debt relief is worse\" indicated the Toronto, Canada-based \"The Globe and Mail\". As representative samples from around the world, especially Western countries increasingly reveal Africa\'s balanced image abroad and an increased understanding of Africa\'s development process, African values such as the Asantehene flow into the world to be seen and respected on their own merits without any propaganda.

The Western media and citizens are becoming increasingly multiculturalized and understanding Africa better and the young academic discipline of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) are increasingly questioning why there are almost permanent negative news about everything in Africa despite the continent\'s rich cultural values and institutions that have let it survive centuries of abuse, imposition of foreign values, misunderstanding, crime and international marginalization.

In Asantehene as Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11 increasingly engages in international development activities, as will be happening at Harvard University, Africa\'s image abroad will be changed for the better.

 


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