Sunday, 2 December 2012

Is the DRC crisis really not worth making headlines?

By Gael Masengi

 If you have been constantly asking yourself and wondering why the world deadliest conflict of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) still isn’t getting enough media coverage compared to others, well the chance is you are not alone neither insane. Just like you, I’ve challenged the idea of one’s blood is more worthy than the other but given the situation and overwhelming media attention certain wars are getting no one will blame many who seem to think the opposite.

This past week Khadija Patel wrote an outstanding piece in the Daily Maverick news website, in the article titled “From Gaza to the Congo: Whose blood is more worthy of attention?”, the journalist sensibly compared media coverage and attention the week long Gaza bombing campaign had received to one of Congo, she noted that there was a remarkable disparity between both crises, despite the endless crisis of the DRC having claim more than 5.4 million of lives yet the war always get the least of media exposure, she wrote “Just over one week of bombing in Gaza and everybody was up in arms. There were rallies and protests right across the world. In the media, pages and pages of reportage analyses and testimony. Together with them, the reports of ordinary Palestinians on social media lent us some clues of scale of human tragedy unfolding in the homes, the media offices and the refugee camps in Gaza…and then there’s the Congo” she continues “In the last week, rebels from the M23 group humiliated Congolese troops, taking the town of Goma and vowing to press on to Kinshasa, the capital. In the wake of the rebel victory, an all too familiar cycle of unease, reports of abuse at the hands of militia and the threat of a worsening humanitarian situation.” Countless opinions view the Middle-East as a hot bed of westerners’ interests yet a fragile zone therefore it always apportioned much media exposure dissimilar to anyplace else, crediting that to American dominance on media. She however reckons the crisis isn’t really being completely ignored but it isn’t rather exciting as the attention that Gaza did.  Patel also senses that there is an invisible logic which states one must own a media platform with a global reach in order to influence the world opinion, referring to the skewed media coverage super storm  Sandy received when the US east coast were hit with how it affected the Caribbean’s islands of Cuba and Haiti a week earlier. 

Vava Tampa, a London-based anti “mineral conflict” Congolese activist, echoes the same feeling of either total lack of willing or conflict of interests when it comes to reporting on the world greatest humanitarian crisis of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the article published on CNN website, the activist wrote “…the question here is not whether the human suffering in Congo deserves more media coverage because it is greater than that in Syria or Gaza, but rather, why has the crisis in Syria or Gaza qualified for extensive media coverage, but not the killing and raping industries in Congo?” he questioned the motive behind this media blockade on the Congo whether it’s due to the geographical or cultural distance between Europe or America and Congo or just because no western ally or interests were in jeopardy . “What if Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe or his disciples were implicated in funding murderous militia gangs in Congo?”  He asked, “Or if the killing was between black Africans and Arabs? Or if minerals funding Congo’s killing and raping industries benefited the East more than the West?”  

On Thursday I found myself debating critical issues on the DRC with activists from the South African Forum for International Solidarity (SAFIS), something rang a bell when an activist invoked  the same concern of total absence on global media on what regards the DRC’s fifteen years-old problems, it suddenly struck me and became clear that the Congo’s conflict is purposely being suffocated inside flashy heaven-like news rooms in London, Doha or Washington but then again who does it benefit to?, I asked, Or are stories coming from that part of the world too sensible to report compared to an openly wounded five year-old boy in Israeli airstrike on Gaza?

I concluded as such, if the Congo conflict is decided inside some fancy sky scraper offices, by a bunch of well-dressed corporate executives, thousands of miles away, possibly the very same actors also hold major shares at large media conglomerates, which in their turn, they make sure that selective information get on-air, in fear not to lose that heavy cheque.

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