What’s At Stake:
A lack of coverage by non-African media following the passing of a rising political star in Ivory coast, a clear lack of knowledge about African musical history at the US Grammys, and Tanzanians put democracy on display, with a peaceful transfer of power to a woman.
Ivory Coast Mourns A Rising Political Star
March 12 through 19 was declared as a period of national mourning by officials in the nation of Ivory Coast or Cote D’Ivoire after Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko passed away on March 10.
The 56-year-old politician fondly called “Hambak” or “Golden Boy” was a major advocate for reconciliation and a “father to the youth.” Bakayoko was flown to France for medical care on February 18, and later to Germany where he died of cancer. His remains were flown to Cote D’Ivoire on March 13. He was laid to rest on March 19.
This death is shocking to many as there was no mention of serious prior illness, except that Bakayoko was undergoing a medical check. Many Ivorians turned to the internet to express their feelings about the loss of a second prime minister in just 9 months. Bakayoko became prime minister after his predecessor, Amadou Gon Coulibaly died in July 2020.
The non-African media coverage on Bakayoko’s death is close to non-existent.
This was a man who was favored to be the next president of Cote D’Ivoire. So where is the media coverage? This lack of coverage from American media raises an important question: do African leaders only get mentioned when there is a need to criticize their actions?
Nigerian Superstars Seize the Moment at US Grammy Awards
On March 14, Africans and Afrobeat lovers across the world celebrated Nigerian music stars Burna Boy and Wizkid for taking home two Grammys. Burna won the award in Best Global Music Album category for his album “Twice as Tall” and Wizkid in Best Music Video for “Brown Skin Girl,” a collaboration that was done with American music star Beyonce.
Since their wins, Burna Boy and Wizkid are getting well-deserved worldwide press exposure. So are African music and culture. The two artists join a list of under a dozen other African artists to win Grammys.
While many online headlines refer to this win as “Putting Africa on the map,” others are quick to point out that other Africans have won before the two Nigerian stars. In fact, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, an all-male South African singing group won five Grammys over the years.
The music genre and popularity of the two artists are big factors in how much exposure they are getting compared to their predecessors. However, as Burna stated in his acceptance speech, this win is for the new generation and Africans over the world as it presents a platform for the world to appreciate the beauty of African art.
Tanzanian Milestone: A Strong African Woman Takes Charge
On March 19, Tanzania joined a few countries in the world that are led by women. The country’s first female president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, who served as vice president under President John Magufuli’s, was sworn in. In the week following the passing of Magufuli, Western news media outlets focused their attention on reporting the cause of death of the president, that a major turning point for the country is being overlooked. That turning point is the quick succession and peaceful transfer of power to Suhulu Hassan in the democratic East African nation.
Of the many articles that headline Hassan’s presidency, many only briefly mention her, then quickly swing to the controversy about Magufuli’s Covid-19 skepticism and how he handled the pandemic. A limited number of the stories provided details about the country’s new leader, her political career, and what her leadership role means.