Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The archiac colonial aspirations of the British press

On another day which we (in the USA) were subjected to yet another frivolous barrage about this or that trifling in the life of now ex-con Martha S, it was refreshing to note that the BBC found other important issues happening around the globe to appraise us on. Or at least so I thought. I’m not going to waste time addressing Martha, I already did that here.
The municipal council in Pretoria, SA’s capitol city, has decided to rename the city “Tshwane.” The council’s justification is simple, the new name which means “We are the same,” is not only irenic, but reunites the metropolis with the name given it by ancient African settlers in the region. Clearly this name change is a long overdue and welcome conciliatory gesture in this nation, a decade after the end of apartheid rule. But the BBC in a rare display of that classic British bigotry and ignorant pride found reason to question the legitimacy of this move confirming that centuries after end of imperialism they still patently practice imperial journalism.
See the real story here is not in questioning whether it is right to change rename places because we know that this is just a minute step towards righting many wrongs done to Africans generations ago. Besides, no one questioned the legitimacy of the British and their European kin when they changed the names of places or carved up national boundaries in Africa from Berlin in 1887. The real story is in the by line, “what does this mean for the British and their old glory?” If Africans, we who are native to the land rename important places in our countries to honor our heritage (and give some of these places their original names back), we do so at the cost of the British and other colonial powers. This is where the real pain is
It’s no new news that the British Empire long since receded, but it’s been a long time since definitive action of this caliber has been taken to confront perpetual colonial influence in Africa. When was the last time you heard of an African capitol changing names? But nominal reclamation of Africa has been going on ever since the wave of independence swept across Africa in the sixties. We in Zimbabwe recently renamed some of our city streets, government buildings and schools. We have yet to officially rename the Victoria Falls, "Mose Oa Tunya,"--the smoke that thunders as our people originally called them.
Casting the renaming of Pretoria as an independent incident based on a rash decision is calculated to reintroduce tension against the progress we’re making at reclaiming our continent. Of this, the BBC cannot shift culpability. Even in SA itself, several cities and various locations have already been renamed. Read about it here. Why didn’t the BBC see it fit to open dialogue about whether it is smart to change names then? What reason do they proffer to explain their new concern for the Africans under the wrath of AIDS now when they cared about us only enough to colonize and emaciate us two hundred years ago?
I don’t buy the tainted “objectivity” the BBC’s employs in reporting about former colonies of the British Commonwealth. We Africans will continue to take back what's ours.

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