Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Value of Life in Africa

Last week I came across an interesting post on my favourite South Africa news blog - specifically it was about the value of life in South Africa. The analysis was quite an interesting one and the argument counter-intuitive (not that the conclusion of the article was!)

Basically the observation was that if something were to happen to a foreigner in South Africa (and I would vouch to extend this to anywhere in the third world, let alone just Africa), the amount of media coverage that mugging or murder would get would be quite literally a thousand times the amount the same event would attract were the victim a local. Wonkie made the point that in the township Anni Dewani was murdered in, there were about 700 murders since 2005 - none of those had any coverage whatsoever, let alone the police chief making public statements about how very sorry he was about the incident.

Of course, I believe the Wonkie article omits mentioning the obvious fact that the murder of a tourist has far reaching implications internationally and so media coverage of what was being done in support of the investigation is extra important. The point about the value of life of local people in the third world - and in Africa particularly the poor and the black is sadly incredibly low.

What aggravates the situation is the poor reporting of actual crime statistics in the poorer areas - this is equally true in Uganda where I am based. In neighbouring countries, the reports of rapes and violent crime is far more stifled due to fear in those areas and there is certainly an unfortunately direct correlation between poverty and perceived importance by the media. Life is tough in Africa in more ways than one :(