Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Those 'Top 20 Africans' Lists

Thanks to the not-so-mini hiatus and having third world internet issues, I'm only just getting around to posting on these awesome ladies who made Forbes of 20 Young and Influential African women.

Someone on Twitter pointed out the difference in the composition of these lists in the US, for example, versus when the roster is drawn up for African countries. These list in the US and in other Western countries tend to be chockful of entertainers, whereas for Africa they're full of intellectuals.

This was brought up a bit boastfully, but I think the reasoning for this may not necessarily be something folks from African countries should welcome. Indeed, if you took up the 20 Young Americans lists, especially based on poll respondents, it won't feature many intellectuals. That's because it'll be honest. Its also worth pointing out that these Western news outlets are, well, Western, and therefore are more likely to show things as they are in Western countries, not projections of what they'd wish them to be. Forbes, Newsweek, etc, can't know of who really does hold sway in countries like Nigeria, for example. If they did, I doubt they'd put the words 'influential' and 'young' in the same sentence.

But this is all by-the-way. I do love that these remarkable women get such coverage. I'm familiar with the work of women like Funmi Iyanda and Ory Okolloh, and they certainly deserve this recognition, and tons more. I just wish it were people like these that actually controlled our political and cultural discourse. A real list of people with real sway over our cultural imagination will probably be overrun half-witted imams, and megachurch pastors.