There are questions that we need to ponder as we continue to be bombarded by the many atrocities that curtain raise 2015’s dawn.
As I highlight these pertinent issues, the most important thing to underline is that whoever owns a platform (any platform) has the right to do whatever they deem fit with it. They make the rules and regulations for the platforms; meaningthey can change/bend them if they so wish. If I own any platform I will use it to talk about myself (or anything that represents me) to promote my ideas, to affirm my philosophies and find support for my politics (no matter how ‘opinionated’ or straight up twisted).
With this in mind and narrowing on the scenarios pertaining to the coverage of recent devastating situations by ‘mainstream media’, we need to start focusing on alternative platforms that we can consume from. How do we relate to them? Do we make a conscious choice to consume from them or are we more swayed by “top-tier” platforms?
Will I, as a content creator, journalist, writer, peddle ‘mainstream ideas” for profit or will I take a chance and begin to voice difference in abundance?
Will we believe the platform that is more reflective of ourselves? Will we support it? Is it ‘credible’ enough for us? These stories that mirror us, are they ‘intellectual’ enough for our tastes?
Our consumption of so-called ‘mainstream media’ ought to be done with the knowledge that the disenfranchised are never meant to be represented at all. And therefore in the odd chance when they are, their portrayals are laden with narrow-minded, ignorant prejudice. This should not surprise us. And anyway, what happens on a global platform is only a bigger reflection on what happens locally. Are the disenfranchised here, given a fair and objective representation on “mainstream media”? So why would we expect this, something that we have not experienced and cannot even imagine, to be replicated on a global scale?
And yes the disenfranchised have found ways in which they can talk about their oppression, they advocate, they regroup; do we support these platforms? Have we relegated them to the peripheries already simply because these stories will never be picked by mainstream media therefore deemed unworthy?
The media should never dictate who we love and who we hate. Yet it does. We are told how to empathize for different people. We use the words, “innocent victims” in the case of one, and “civilian casualties” in the case of another. We are told which grief to identify with and which to distance ourselves from (because their deaths were just a technicality).
We need more voices. We need more platforms for us. We need more self-appreciation and self-awareness to enable us to critically speak about ourselves, our land, our homes and our bodies. We need to envision ourselves as worthy so that we reflect this even in our critique. I am tired of self-hating posts/pieces that are branded as “intellectual analysis” simply because they perpetuate the Africa that is more “sellable”. That said, we also need to exorcise our demons. We have way too many! Let us call out our own complacency, let us call for action against corrupt systems of governing, let us name and expunge our fear! However, let us do so with the vision of the “us” that we want to create, and not just call for intellectuals for the heck of it.
We need platforms that are NOT neutral, no apologists, thank you! We need affirmations. There are too many folk out there with a wide reach not making an ounce of a difference because they are too ‘afraid’ to take a stand, you know, lest they lose their currencies or sponsors (or whatever). These ones are of no use at all. When in a battlefield, the most dangerous person is the ‘neutral’ one; they won’t fight you or fight For you, they are just in the way! And occupying quite a bit of space doing zilch, zero – thereby reducing your chances of producing better strategy. Stand for something, or just ‘donate’ your followers/reader to some worthy cause!
We need to write to ourselves in our many languages, allowing us to dip into our histories and authoritatively define where we are and where are going.
We need to regroup and create!
© Sally Kahiu 2015