African journalists gather to discuss portrayal of their homeland

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Seven radio journalists from six African countries met with members of the local African media July 24 to discuss the need to portray a more positive image of Africa. Hosted by the African New Journal, the forum was the first of its kind in the Twin Cities.

The Visiting journalists, who were sponsored by the US Department of State for the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to exchange ideas and share expertise with their professional colleagues from all over the world included Antonio de Sousa Simbo, National Radio of Angola, Angola; Haddy Badji, Gambia Radio and Television Services, Gambia; Edwin Kumah Drah, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Ghana; Jeff E. Tarnue, Star Radio, Liberia; Goitse Modimo Seleka, central District Municipality, South Africa; Nike Coker, Cool Fm, Nigeria and Hauwa Ibrahim, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Nigeria.

While the media practitioners stressed the need for Africans to view one another as one body rather than various countries, they noted the need to use the media as an avenue to educate the African people both home and abroad and to promote democracy. “Most of the bad things said about Africa is done by intellectuals abroad. Our job as journalists is to bury hatred and create a situation where our leaders would promote a United States of Africa,” they agreed.

The visiting journalists were also curious to know about how the local African Media, such as The African News Journal, is working. ANJ board member Bashe Said and writer Nde Ntuv Evaristus Tunka, described the publication. “We plan the publication to be not only a news source for the local Africans but also educational tool so that our readers can learn something that it is beneficial to their daily life ” said Tunka.

Akmed Wassie of Ethiopian Voices Radio, which presents Voice of Ethiopia for the Ethiopia community in Minnesota, also mentioned that the radio program experienced such criticisms from the Ethiopian community. According to him, some of the Ethiopians associate the program with a particular community in Ethiopia because of the choice of language used to present it. “But we have chosen that language because it is the language generally understood by majority of Ethiopians and not because we tend to support one part of the community more than the other,” Wassie said.

Charles Denis, a program presenter with KMOJ Radio, encouraged the visiting journalists to create a communication link with their colleagues in the diaspora in order to strengthen the relationship between those home and abroad, which he believed would help to showcase Africa positively. Tom Gitaa, publisher of Mshale, also described his monthly newspaper.

Also attendng the meeting were State Sen. Mee Moua, State Senate candidate Obi Sium, Macalester College Professor Mahmoud El Kati, and others.

The journalists were accompanied by Jennifer Thorvig of Minnesota International Center, Mr. William Toney Seabolt Jr., English Language Officer and Ms. Johnsy A. Middleton, Contract Employee of the US Department of State.

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