Cast­ing off stereo­types

ChinAfrica - - Africa Report -

Their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Hangzhou Sum­mit also gave the African jour­nal­ists a chance to talk about their own coun­tries and dis­pel the neg­a­tive stereo­types cre­ated by the Western me­dia. Many of them were in­ter­viewed by the Chi­nese me­dia and talked about the cul­tural her­itages of their coun­tries, progress and se­cu­rity.

“Ebola af­fected Guinea’s econ­omy for some time but that was not the end of ev­ery­thing,” said Ka­mano, re­fer­ring to the out­break of the dis­ease in West Africa in 2013. “We are go­ing back to nor­mal. Guinea is rich in min­eral wealth, we have baux­ite, iron, gold and di­a­mond. We also have oil. We are re­build­ing our econ­omy and we ap­pre­ci­ate the help China gave us to con­trol the out­break [of the epi­demic]. Many other coun­tries helped too, but China was the first to re­spond.”

Be­layneh Bahiru Uma from the Ethiopian News Agency said his coun­try Ethiopia is poles apart from how it is per­ceived. “Peo­ple think of Ethiopia as a land of famine,” he said. “This is the im­age they have from old his­tory stereo­types. Ac­tu­ally, Ethiopia is the fastest­grow­ing coun­try in Africa. For the last 13 years we have had dou­ble-digit growth vary­ing be­tween 10 and 13 per­cent. The gov­ern­ment has im­ple­mented spe­cific pro­grams to al­le­vi­ate famine and poverty. Ethiopian women are highly ed­u­cated. In primary schools, girls’ en­roll­ment rate is 100 per­cent. In high schools it is 40 per­cent and the gov­ern­ment is work­ing to in­crease it to 100 per­cent by 2020.”

Ethiopian so­ci­ety, he said, is highly in­te­grated. “The pop­u­la­tion con­sists al­most equally of Chris­tians and Mus­lims and they live, eat and cel­e­brate to­gether. Ethiopia is a highly tol­er­ant so­ci­ety where dif­fer­ent sects and com­mu­ni­ties live in com­plete har­mony.”

Ye­mane Haile Ghe­breki­dan from the Eritrean News Agency said though Eritrea lived through an armed strug­gle for al­most 30 years, it re­mains a very hos­pitable so­ci­ety with high se­cu­rity. “There is no crime,” he em­pha­sized. “You can be out the whole night and you will be safe. If you leave your wal­let and phone in a restau­rant, you will get them back the next day. This is some­thing deeply rooted in the cul­ture.”

The African jour­nal­ists also said their stay and trav­els through China had also dis­pelled their pre­con­ceived im­age of it be­ing a poor coun­try with a teem­ing pop­u­la­tion. They said they were amazed by the in­fra­struc­ture and other signs of de­vel­op­ment they saw.

“China has faced big chal­lenges to bring de­vel­op­ment for its 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple,” said Ka­mano. “We will do it our­selves in the next 10 years and we want to see how they did it. There is still poverty in China but when the lead­ers say they have a plan to erad­i­cate poverty, they mean it.” Ghe­breki­dan’s in­ter­est lies in the phi­los­o­phy be­hind this de­vel­op­ment. “It will con­trib­ute to a more clear vi­sion of the fu­ture for all,” he said. (Re­port­ing from Hangzhou) Com­ments to niyan­shuo@chi­nafrica.cn

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