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About This Irresponsible Reporting of Nigeria’s Election

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I am forever annoyed by the way stories told about Africa and Africans are framed. We’ve come so far but we’re still acting like the continent is nothing but a giant country of bad news and bad decisions and it is always frustrating to me.

History was made yesterday when for the first time ever, a Nigerian incumbent president lost in an election. Muhammadu Buhari won over Goodluck Jonathan, and it showed the power of citizens who came out in record numbers to let their voices be heard. We know that President-elect Buhari has real work to do but it was such a victory for democracy.

So today, there was an article on The Root by Charles D. Ellison with the headline: “Who won the Nigerian Election? Maybe Boko Haram” and I was offended by it. So were other Nigerians in my Facebook newsfeeds. I went on Twitter to talk about it and ended up in an exchange with the writer, who was in no place to listen to my critiques.

Just… see below. If you can’t view the tweets, check them out on Storify.

By the way, I am not posting this as a call to action for y’all to send Charles’ mentions into shambles. The conversation has been had (and I doubt he learned anything. He was standing wrong and very strong). The Root is a site I respect, have written for and read regularly. I am disappointed that the piece showed up there but I am also not posting this to call for boycotts or nothing. This is a conversation I want to bring to your attention because it’s representative of a lot of issues I have with media reporting on Africa.

I asked my people on Facebook and Twitter for websites that report well on things that are happening on the African continent. Check these out:

Africa Is a CountryAfrican ReviewAll Africa | Sahara Reporters | Face2Face Africa |

Edit: The title of Charles’ piece has now been changed to: “Will the New Nigerian President Do Any Better in Suppressing Boko Haram?” Much better.

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14 Comments

  1. Yetunde
    April 1, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    I needed your last two paragraphs cuz I was about to go park myself on his mentions with a verbal machine gun.

    So you’re saying we should take the high road ehn? I’ll try. But if by chance I still end up in his mentions, is not my fault. Walahi na devil cause am!

  2. Whilome
    April 1, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Stay on ’em, Luvvie. The danger of a single story, indeed! And they expect folks to be so ignant about Nigerian politics that they can slant any story and slap “political expert” on it like they know what they’re talking about.
    For any of us that aren’t hip to the significance of this election, the analogy of reporters giving the KKK credit for Obama’s historic win is the perfect analogy. I hope it’s repeated and retweeted ad infinitum. Don’t let The Root or nan other writer off the hook for click bait reductive “reporting”. Still waiting on Ellison’s receipts doe….

  3. PoetrysTruth
    April 1, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Wow just wow. I’m offended for you, not that you need me to be, but I am. That whole “stay in your lane” is beyond condescending. Had you been a WHITE writer would he have thrown this slang at you? About your own country at that?

    So fucking dismissive, instead of engaging he went the asshole American route.

    I really wish we could take the county low road, unpaved, one lane.

  4. Shakira Harris
    April 1, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    The ignorance, arrogance, and all-around fuckery of this so-called “journalist” has my pressure ALL the way up! I’m so angry that I might get a nosebleed

  5. RaeJ
    April 1, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    There is now an editor’s note at the bottom of the article saying the writer did not mean to suggest Buhari funded BH. :-/
    His tone was very defensive in the tweets. I’m not defending him, but as a writer I know how we can be about our work. On the flip side when we share our work with the world we have to be ready for anything and be able to handle it with grace. The editor’s note is proof that he was careless with his words.

  6. April 1, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    Good for you for calling him out. As you sadly know, many of us Black Americans are woefully ignorant as to what occurs in the Motherland. We do not do enough research on our own to get the full picture. I can say that I was actually wanting to hear from ppl of Nigerian descent to know more about the pluses and minuses of the newly elected president. I’m also praying that maybe there will be a more effective drive to #bringbackourgirls !

  7. Heha
    April 2, 2015 at 12:15 am

    Na bad belle wan kill am. Onofia! Olofofo. Na im papa nyansh im dey talk about.
    Luvvie abeg lef matter jare! Don’t let your blood pressure go up. Nigeria go betta

  8. Marsha Thaxter
    April 2, 2015 at 12:34 am

    Your voice was heard. He changed the title of the article;

    Will the New Nigerian President Do Any Better in Suppressing Boko Haram?
    http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2015/04/who_won_the_nigerian_election_maybe_boko_haram.html

  9. Cassandra
    April 2, 2015 at 1:04 am

    I read the article as well and what struck me was his unsupported claims that Buhari funded Boko Harem. Somehow him being a Muslim made him a sympathizer to an extremist group? The author provided a link referencing financial support but the link went back to a previous article he wrote about Buhari. In the spirit of Lester a la “The Wire” I was following the money sis and found a dead end. My husband is from Oyo State and the election has been a point of conversation in our house for months. He has thoughtfully cited Buhari’s strict attitude, vision and professionalism as reasons why the country largely supported him over Jonathan. And Buhari did not, during his previous term, treat Nigeria as his personal ATM. “The Root” tends to have terrible reporting and inflammatory articles centered around Black American topics so I am not suprised on how poorly they handled the Nigerian election coverage.

  10. Steve
    April 2, 2015 at 7:03 am

    Longtime reader maybe 2nd time commenter….your perspective is informative, enlightening, and empowering….that’s all (for now)

  11. Effie
    April 2, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Well done, African Sis, all too many times the media disrespects the very basic rights of Africans to represent themselves other than the negative images that plague western thought. You have at the very least called out an offense, which an American writer can’t even fathom, but at the very least it was offensive.

    3 cheers for Naija and more cheers for AFRICA!!!!!
    Onward ever, backwards never – Kwame Nkrumah, 1st president of Ghana

  12. Dee
    April 2, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Thanks for the much needed info’ on websites that gives information on Africa – an incredibly multi-faceted continent – that doesn’t feed into the usual tired and trite tropes. Will be diving in!

  13. notconvincedgranny
    April 3, 2015 at 12:12 am

    **sitting, rocking, smiling** Stay on ’em, baby.

  14. April 5, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Very insightful arguments, but hey it’s the media and that’s what they need to sell and get higher ratings.
    The good people of Nigeria are the true winners, who went out under the rain and surrounded by the fear of terrorist attacks and still stood their ground to vote in large numbers. Still we rise.