BBC WHYS footprints in Africa

WHYS trip to Africa was very successful. It brought Africa to the eyes of the world from the perspective of ordinary people, especially the listeners. In a precedent, most of the team took a backseat leaving WHYS listeners from the countries visited take the floor as presenters and participants. They left the rest of the team deal with the technical aspects of broadcasting, including Richard Bowen whose voice wasn’t heard in conjunction with that of Ros.

The shows presented from Africa were an opportunity to get close to African people, not as portrayed in the news but by listening to them directly. It was a kind of celebrations as listeners were speaking to listeners, setting the agenda and expressing their divergent views. What attracts me in the shows is that Africans despite their difficulties ranging from corruption and social problems are lively people. WHYS through its different trips to many countries across the major continents: Africa, Asia, Europe and the USA succeeded in bringing people together and to share views.

For me, the trip to Africa raised my curiosity to know more about the countries visited by browsing BBC country profile and checking other websites about them. The period spent by WHYS in these countries was, for me, more or less an opportunity to know about the history and geography of these countries.

Perhaps the most memorable part of this trip was the broadcasting of WHYS from Issa’s house. This gave the programme a special touch, as it was possible for listeners to see his house on the blog. That gave the impression that all the listeners were in his house, not only WHYS team and the neighbours. What was impressive was when Issa and the other participants talked about their day-to-day lives regarding among other thing their difficulties with their energy and running water. The casual atmosphere in which the program was run from Issa’s house was a real depiction of a local atmosphere, mixing African hospitality, hopes and worries.

There were previous “long” trips to India and the USA. But with each trip WHYS grows into more appeal. But the trip to Africa was really something special showing the world what the people in this continent aspire for.

Through the three countries visited -Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya- Africa seems a continent still plunged in difficulties but it has wonderful people who are very welcoming. The hot discussions showed how the Africans are passionate about their state. Maybe with more democratic development, the Africans will have a chance to have their say at home regarding their political, economic and social matters. With more integration, African countries can have their say on the world stage. Some African countries, like DR Congo, should come to their senses instead of remaining at the mercy of internal wars, calling for peacekeeping forces which can only observe a ceasefire or stop bloodshed but can’t force reconciliation unless the parties have the will to do so.

But one thing that remains is that despite the joviality shown throughout the programmes, these countries like the rest of Africa still have a long way to go for general prosperity. WHYS is about to end its trip in Africa, but Africa needs to really start its trip for progress and prosperity by confronting its deep-rooted problems. It can’t continue to blame its problems on colonialism. This could have been accepted in the first decade of its independence, as emerging countries needed a firm ground to stand unshaken. The majority of African countries have been independent for more than thirty years. They can’t spend a longer period blaming it all on “imperialism” and “colonialism” while they continue either fighting with one another or turning their backs to one another, not to mention the absence the national cohesion among its different political forces.

So as the WHYS team bid farewell to Africa after linking it to the world for two weeks, Africans need to fortify their existing links. All that is needed is to talk and listen to one another without shouting or fighting. Africans from their independence split too much blood, with more deaths than during the colonial era or fight for independence. Now with the era of stability and emerging democracy, Africans have the chance to have a rich life in parallel with their natural and cultural riches.

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An extended vesrion of the debate on the status of Africa

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At 03:32 PM on 25 May 2007

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