Friday, September 29, 2006

New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa's Renaissance by Charlayne Hunter-Gault

"Death, disaster, disease, and despair" is the message of most newspaper and television reports from Africa. Journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault of National Public Radio says that the media sells only an old easy-to-report story - typical sensationalism. While based on truth, for there are many problems yet to solve on the African continent, these reports miss the good news. There are strong signs of hope and improvement in Africa. She calls this "new news."

New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa's Renaissance
is a collection of three essays by Hunter-Gault. In "South Africa, Then and Now" she tells her first-hand story of seeing the evils of apartheid dismantled, as Nelson Mandela was released from prison and became president, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission held its hearings about the crimes of the apartheid era. The transition of government was swift but the economic development is slow. There are still many poor blacks in the country, which is now also suffering from an AIDS epidemic, but the author points to much progress that has been made. She sees South Africa as the rising power that will help the entire continent.

In "Baby Steps to Democracy" she tells of the end of the era of strong dictators in Africa. She describes the countries where elections have been held and the countries where this has not yet happened. Even in the lagging countries there are people risking their lives to oppose repressive regimes.

In "Reporting Renaissance" she disputes "The Hopeless Continent," a well-read article in The Economist in 2000. She also tells about the role that African and western journalists have in encouraging good government and development.

Reference librarians will be glad to see this small book has a detailed index and notes citing many sources. Recommended for readers interested in African affairs.

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