It is said that good media coverage boosts professional image of a group or an individual. Famous professionals in the world are partly an outcome of good media coverage. The coverage which has focus on the positive side of professional endeavour with pedantry that ever yearns for a mistake to publicise. Unfortunately professional of African women does not enjoy good media coverage. The conventional media coverage in Africa is over-influenced by patriarchal values to an extent that it only appreciated an African women operating within the kitchen and in service to her husband. It is not easy to come by a conventional newspaper or TV citizenship that boldly appreciates an African woman in her capacity as a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer or an actuary.
Positive media coverage in regard to professional Excellency is at most done in respect of man.This is one of the threats that work as a blot to future professionalism among African womenfolk. Why the media focuses on the flip side of live of an an African woman was evidently seen in the coverage of the death of Winnie Mandela.
Winnie Mandela passed away on Monday 2nd of April 2018 at the age of 81. It was so a doomsday, the day of bad luck to her family and at most to the general human family of the decided few devoted to fighting social injustices which at most come in form of economic exclusion, racial bigotry and political tyranny. The media coverage around the world presented announcements about Winnie’s death as the breaking news as well as cover page stories given that Winnie herself was persistent hot news.Unfortunately, most of the Newspapers and news portals from around East Africa were more concerned with informing their audience that Winnie Mandela had a flawed life evinced in her controversial marriage, least were they concerned with reporting that the late Winnie Mandela was a writer, a freedom fighter, a self-immolated politician, a member of parliament, a mauverick woman, a social worker, a law scholar, a reader, a revolutionary, and a paragon of struggle against racial and social justice , a revolutionary paragon that only suffered intermittent undermining as a victim of conspiracies that obviously go with politics of betrayal.
The manner in which the Newspaers in East Africa reported death of Winnie Mandela makes me to admire Philip Ochieng’s intellectual knack for framing the title of his book; I accuse the press, and indeed I am also pissed off with the focal parochialism of the East African Newspapers in relation to covering of Winnie Mandela’s death. For example this is how the Daily Nation in Kenya on 3rd Wednesday April 2018 announced Winnie’s death ;Winnie Mandela: South Africa’s flawed heroine dies.The East African Standard also a daily paper in Kenya on the same date on page three had its title focused on the flawed Marriage but not anti-apartheid legacies of Winnie Mandela.
I don’t dispute the fact that it is an out-dated culture among the media to report a case of man biting a dog but not a dog biting a man. Yes, it is a professional technique that was not supposed to be applied in reporting the death of Winnie Mandela.She was already newsworthy enough , one did not need to package some irregular stuff like past controversies in her marriage when writing news about her death .
And truly, nature cannot endow one person with all qualities; to be a good wife and a good freedom fighter. No, it cannot be possible. This logic also extents to life, strengths and weaknesses of Nelson Mandela. When Mandela died no media house blamed him for divorcing his first wife. Thus, it is the time for human society, especially African society to stop judging a woman on the basis of how much a woman has performed in her marriage. A marriage which always call for submissiveness. This is a contradiction to nature, a contradiction to the biological reality that not all women were created or were born to be good wives, some were born to be good presidents, good scientists, good-freedom fighters or even good writers, but not necessarily goodwives. This is why I urge the media from EastAfrica to go beyond patriarchal mind-sets when writing and reporting about women. The media in East Africa is also duty-bound to realise that most of the intellectually gifted people are highly prone to divorcing, they don’t have an internal capacity to cling on a marriage.Evidently, Winnie Mandela was an intellectual, a social iconoclast who brecciated the traditional tor of apartheid.
Winnie was a crusader for social justice. She did this through verbal politics, armed struggle, courtroom battles, strikes, cultural deviance, and ideological pantophagy and also through the literary front. The media in south Africa correctly praised her as the Mother of freedom, she also deserved an accolade in literature- she is a co-mother to Africanliterature. She was the author of two books;Part of My Soul Went with Him (1984) and then 491 Days (2013). In the books, she discusses the atrocities that apartheid perpetrated on individuals, families, organization, individuals, a black woman and societies for no other reason but for the reason of vicious virtue that the victims of perpetrated atrocity had a black skin. Had it not been that Winnie was always arrested and physically brutalized by the apartheid government during her youthful life, she would have written more than what she did .Given that it was the time of blossomed witting in South Africa.
The media faulted Winnie Mandela for the words she used to describe Tutu and Nelson Mandela in a 2010 interview in which she was interviewed by V. S. Naipaul. In the interview, she attacked her ex-husband, claiming that he had let blacks down, that he was only wheeled out to collect money, and that he was nothing more than a foundation. She further attacked his decision to accept the Nobel Peace Prize with FW De Klerk. Among other things, she reportedly claimed Mandela was no longer accessible to her daughters. She referred to Archbishop Tutu, in his capacity as the head of the Truth and Reconciliation commission, as a cretin. The interview attracted media attention and the ANC announced that it would ask her to explain her comments regarding Nelson Mandela.
This interview might have been a fabrication or was not meant to be published as the media later on speculated. However, the basic criteria of judging this interview must not be ignored- the intellectual nature and mental disposition of the interviewer, the one V. S. Naipaul; he is seriously an anglicized Indian writer. He has never been able to write anything good about Africa, West Indies, Asia, Islam world and South America. V. S. Naipaul is a living extension of the heart of darkness.
This interview that Naipaul held with Winnie Mandela was one of several interviews he carried out cross Africa. They were published as a book, the Masque of Africa. The book is so presumptive, racially biased and heavily reeking of cultural shocks triggered by incompetent racism. It was so unfortunate that when in South Africa V. S. Naipaul only made an effort to read the works of Riana Malan, and also visited Herman Bossman, a pro-apartheid writer. This limited socialization could not have given Naipaul the right social exposure to understand politics, racism and believe system in South Africa.
It is indicated in the Masque of Africa that while in South Africa Naipaul did not visit Nadine Gordimer, J M Coatzee, not even read S P Platje, Alex La Guma or Dennis Brutus. Reasons for this deliberate self-limitation is not given, but had Naipaul visited any public library he would have read Masizi Kunene’s Decades of Anthem and also Shaka the Zulu ,then he would have discovered that Africa is extensively rich in cultural and oral heritages and thus it does not need colonialism and apartheid for it to participate in literature and other artistic socializations as he foolishly claimed that apartheid was a blessing to South African literature.
But the most discouraging of all is when Naipaul met NomsamoWiniefredMadisekelaWinnie Mandela, instead of focusing on her explanation of the revolutionary experience that patriotic South Africans like Joe Slovo, Walter Sisulu, Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, and many others went through while fighting apartheid, Naipaul was thrilled with a very visceral concern that Winnie Mandela was so beautiful and yet she did not finish her degree course in law. That is that, and it must happen around a great leader, as it is obviously known that good leaders harvest greatness from conflict. Evidently, Winnie survived all those controversies, she remained at the top of her of class, dutiful in service to the humble of humanity. Her life is unavoidable example for the young women of Africa planning their career lives of tomorrow.
It is a trait of good leadership to be self-less, this is what Winnie Mandela was. During hertime of being part of the government as a deputy minister she openly criticized what she believed was anti-social politics by the ANC, Such are the attributes that post-colonial African politicians need to admire in her. Those reporting her flawed marriage are bound to learn that Winnie had made peace with her ex-husband before he died. She came to his 90th birthday party in a soccer stadium in Pretoria in 2008 and stood by his side, alongside his third wife GracaMachel. Both women were also by his side when he died in 2013 at the age of 95. After his death, he was buried in Qunu village close to where he was born. Winnie Mandikizela-Mandela went to court to get access to the plot of land where Mandela was buried but she lost because of being absent in court. Something of critical concern is that even though Winnie took care of Mandela’s old mother for the time Mandela was in prison, Mandela never mentioned her in the last will. An act which requires further soul-searching before making a comment. But anyway, human beings don’t live solelyon bread, truth and service to the poor is what Winnie lived for. She to be mourned with honour by allowing her legacy to the future generations as the memories we shall never lose.
This does not mean that we don’t have Newspapers in Africa that can report the positive side of an African woman, there are some. At least out of a hundred we can get two or one. The monthly Management Magazine in Kenya is one of them. At least it is reporting professional excellence of a woman from around Africa in each and every of its issue. The most exemplary is Face2Face Africa, the Pan-African newspaper published in Newyork. It, but it is also available online .It has a section on women but with a focus on African women in Africa and in the diaspora. It has tried as much as it can to chronicle all the facts about African women Nobel Laureates, African women scientist, African women inventors, African women musicians, African women economists, African women politicians, African women doctors and other African women that have recorded success in industrial, art, political and corporate world. The Face2Face Africa also organizes the annual Pan Africa weekend, an annual festival in New York that brings together all women from Africa and the diaspora to do professional and corporate net-working. This is an example of what the media need to do for an African woman in tune with supporting her future competitiveness.
By; Alexander Opicho