Tom Squitieri - Africa - Continent in Need of Coverage
There had been an ongoing conflict between two ethnic groups in Burundi, and I wanted to cover it. I thought that Africaís conflicts were totally unreported, totally ignored, and had the potential to spread throughout the continent, and history proved me correct. So, I was able through a series of steps to get into Burundi when no other western reporters were able to and spent about 10 days there, both in the capital of Bujumbura as well as in the outlying regions of the country, and I traveled through the country reporting on the conflict and the people. The problems that were no different than what many of us were reporting on from Bosnia and other ethnic conflict areas, and sure enough the problems in Burundi then spilled over to Rwanda which caught everybodyís eyes later on, same two tribes, horrible massacres, horrible massacres going on. It spilled over to Zaire, and now the Congo again, and it just spread throughout Africa. Part of the problem in Africa is we donít cover those wars. And so the problems increase, expand, exacerbate themselves, and then we try to do something about it. We need to sort of attack the problem, report the problem early on. Part of it is those wars in Africa sort of fall into this thing, ďWhy donít we cover Africa at all?Ē Part of it is racism. I think itís predominantly geared to Europeans because thatís where the bulk of Americansí roots are. The economic interests between the United States and Africa are fewer than in Asia and Europe and South America. So, the lack of those interests drives fewer stories. Africa seems far away to many American editors, television producers. It doesnít seem to be relevant. So, itís all bad reasons why we donít cover it. And yet covering Africa is interesting because here, if you believe some historians and anthropologists is where civilization began. Here, if you look in the jungles of Africa, may be the answer to some of the cures for diseases. Here is a laboratory for curing illnesses that we know how to cure already and we donít do it. Itís just, itís a total waste of a continent.
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