Partners, not freeloaders

2010-05-21 13:33

Would it be a stretch to call South

Africa the equivalent of the United States in Africa – both in a ­positive and

negative way?

South

African businesses are traversing the continent, ­establishing companies,

bringing in senior managers and taking earnings out.

SA media

and entertainment platforms broadcast and sell programming across the

­continent, defining what is ­relevant and important.

The media

is critical in ­defining what “popular culture” is and, from a television and

­music perspective, it is South ­African media which seem to lead the way in

this definition.

Africa

Day is upon us once again, and every year I get this nagging feeling that it is

­merely superficially commemorated in SA.

This is when the country seems to

remember that it is part of a wider continent and puts ­together shows to

celebrate ­“being ­African”.

It is

always ironic to hear ­South Africans enthusing about the ­performances of

foreign ­artists while those who reside within the country’s borders ­either

­remain obscure or ­are ­assimilated.

What

Channel O and MTV Base (Africa) show us daily is not all the African continent

­(including SA) has to offer by way of music and entertainment.

Films are

not produced only in Nigeria, the key is not “quality” but whether it speaks to

its ­audience, and music is not the sole domain of a South ­Africa ruled by the

major ­international music labels.

The

challenge of getting local music onto radio stations in SA is less of a problem

in other ­countries, where local music is ­celebrated as much as foreign music

is.

The lack

of multinational ­influence on the media ­landscape means it is often ­easier to

hustle and get content out and onto the relevant ­platforms.

Openly

exploring what is ­happening elsewhere on the ­continent can enrich SA media –

it should not be one-way traffic.

SA is

perfectly poised to create fruitful relationships across the continent, but this

­requires a shift in perspective and an ­openness to the fact that all the

­answers do not lie here.

It isn’t

about being better as much as it is about being ­together.

Until our

society views African foreigners as ­potential partners, as opposed to

freeloaders, this utopian ideal will not be realised.



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