This year, seventeen African countries are celebrating fifty years of self-governance and of these eight nations commemorate their independence in August. The euphoria that gripped so many nations in 1960, proved to be a landmark moment in the continent’s history. But now, fifty years on, we are reaching another milestone in the continent’s legacy.
The expedient changes in information technology and dramatic fluctuations in the global economy have meant that Africa’s role as a world player is always shifting and evolving. This has subsequently rekindled debate and discussions about how far Africa has come and where the future of the continent lies.
The word ‘Africa’ often provokes a mixture of thoughts and discussions. Whether they are positive or negative, the multitude of feelings that the continent conjures up is clearly a testament of the success and struggles of the millions who have lived there both before and after independence.
While celebrations have been occurring across numerous states this year, CNN adopted an innovative programme to try and induce debate about African independence with their special online feature ‘Africa 50’. The report is multi-faceted and addresses different dimensions of Africa’s legacy using an array of mediums. It is hoped that the exercise will take the temperature of the continent in an effective and balanced light. People are encouraged to tweet, upload, write in and utilise the innovations of new technology. Viewers are thus encouraged to share their thoughts, images and stories of their perspectives of Africa’s past, present and future online. The best submissions will be built into a video wall on CNN’s iReport website. The initiative aims to be both interactive and engaging.
New Africa Analysis spoke to the host of CNN’s Inside Africa Isha Sesay about the special report. ‘We are going to use the net to connect with people in Africa and around the world to look at how far Arica has come in 50 years of independence. We want to know what people think, explore issues, generate discussion and provoke thought’ she said. ‘This is a great moment for Africa and CNN are committed to covering it in a transparent and all inclusive way’.
The report therefore aims to highlight African voices, on a range of topical issues. It highlights the successes and failures of democracy in the region, while also addressing ‘resource curse’ discourse and the impact of aid. In addition, it looks at Africa’s role in the twenty first century and the effect of China’s new relationship with the continent.
Sesay also added that CNN have ‘not gone into this with a predetermined notion of a particular image of the continent; we just want to look at the moment like all good journalists go into it with an open mind’.
Though the reports only ran through August, it is important that debates about Africa’s development are sustained. Sesay and the CNN team will subsequently be travelling to Nigeria for CNN’s International Desk – a monthly series that looks at countries around the world – later in September to look at how far the West African country has come.
While the Africa 50 is a concentrated initiative, media outlets like CNN will not be dropping the ball once the celebrations are over -this perhaps more so than anything should be the underlying ethos of this landmark moment in Africa’s history. The only way the continent can learn and grow is to ensure that debate and discussion about the past and future continue to endure.