The Pugnacious Political on… eurocentrism

The recent spate of terrorist attacks world-over has ignited a fresh wave of anti-terrorist sentiments.

On the 7th of January, two gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris and killed 12 people.

Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly, has been at the forefront of criticising non-secular states, racism and religious fanatics since 1970. It is decidedly left-wing and as such, it consistently seeks to combat religious extremism through its use of the almighty pen.

As you may know, Sunday saw roughly 1.5 million people march through the streets of Paris in support of those massacred by two Islamic extremists earlier that week. Under the #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie) banner, France and a vast majority of the western world united to condemn the rise of extremism which consequently, seems to have undermined freedom of speech.

What happened in France is grave tragedy; many people –including the gunmen, which many seem to forget– lost their lives. In addition to this, a separate attack in the east of Paris in Porte de Vincennes, saw one extremist hold up a Kosher grocery store which resulted in the death of four people, and the gunman too, Amedy Coulibaly.

As one of the most established democracies in the world is left in the wake of lethal terror attacks, the world is all-eyes on Paris.

I’m an avid news watcher; first thing in the morning I flick between BBC World News, CNN and Sky News. I enjoy seeing the varying degrees of subjectivism.

Over the last week, Sky News has focused so heavily on the Paris attacks that they have failed to report on barely any other world news – despite their claiming to be a “world” news station.

Do not misunderstand me; the Paris attacks are a watershed moment in the “war on terror.” It deserves a fair amount of airtime. We all do need to know what happened because the chances are, it is the beginning of a shift in the foreign policy of many a country. Even as a South African, this news will be likely to affect me in some shape or form in upcoming years.

It is amazing that at the bottom of the world here in South Africa, I know so much about European, and to a lesser extent, American news – from those very news stations which claim to be world news stations.

in a similar vein to the Paris attacks, Boko Haram (translated to “Western teaching is a sin”), is an extremist military organisation that has been torturing Nigeria since their increasingly more violent actions in 2009. Boko Haram often attacks north-eastern Nigeria as they seek to establish a separatist Islamic state ruled under Sharia law.

Nigeria is by no means a homogenous country; the south is economically booming and largely Christian, whilst the north is a bit quieter and largely Muslim.

Boko Haram has just last weekend flattened and entirely wiped out villages in the north of Nigeria in a raid that lasted for days.

2000 people were killed.

Let me put this in context for you:

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy; it has the greatest population in Africa (±175 million people); it is estimated that one in every five Africans is Nigerian. It is a large federation that accounts for roughly 250 ethnic groups; and, it is one of the top 10 oil exporters in the world.

Sure, Nigeria is no France – but can we conflate the death of 17 people in France to the death of 2000 people in Nigeria?

The root of problem remains largely the same: religious extremists killing civilians to further their cause.

So why is an African life not worth a European life?

The answer is simple: the news is eurocentric. It focuses so largely on Europe (and America), that a continent that houses 1.2 billion people in 53 countries is often left unmonitored and uncared for.

Did you know that Cameroon’s military has announced that it has killed 143 Boko Haram militants just yesterday?

Or that fighting in the world’s youngest state, South Sudan, is so rife between civilians that the country looks unable to hold its elections scheduled for this year?


That’s because the news we watch is eurocentric, sadly.

So, next time the watch the news, ask yourself why you don’t know much about the rest of the world.



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