By Ikenna Emewu
African media has been challenged to take up the task of holding leaders of the continent more accountable and task them to lift the people through better and enviable leadership.
This was the focus of a lecture The Sun man, Ikenna Emewu taking part in the China Africa Media Fellowship in China delivered in Beijing last week.
In his lecture, the first by an African journalist at the Third China African Annual Media Forum he asked the media in Africa to study the progress and growth of China that was made possible by good leadership and challenge African leaders to do the same.
He noted that: “The 47 African media professionals that have taken part in the fellowship have seen enough to make them understand that if China could be lifted from crushing poverty in about 35 years to the second largest economy of the world with a population more than that of Africa, the continent can also do the same. Over 500 media African professionals, including Nigeria, visit China every year, so all should be part of this awareness creation.”
The Forum hosted delegations of about 44 African countries and about 20 Information Ministers, including Nigeria’s Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who also delivered a paper.
Africa and China multilateral diplomatic relationship in ten major areas thrive on the platform of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that was formed 16 years ago. The forum has made the diplomatic and other relationships between China and Africa most vibrant.
From the beginning, the FOCAC set out ten major areas of cooperation between China and Africa to enable raise the economy and other advancements of the African countries.
Some of those major areas of interest of the FOCAC include the health, education, manpower development, industrial development, infrastructure, energy, transport, technology, culture and by extension, the media.
The media aspect, although an addendum under the manpower development of the FOCAC objective seems to pick up enormous speed because of the vital role of the sector in informing and enlightening and also monitoring compliance.
In the Johannesburg FOCAC Summit last December, President Xi Jinping of China had in his speech pointed out concrete steps to be taken by China in capacity enhancement of African experts including the media. Specifically on the media, he promised training in China for 1000 African media professionals in one year.
Other areas of professional and human capacity enhancement Mr. President highlighted included over 200 visits by African scholars, and another 500 visits by young scholars particularly, 30,000 government scholarships and 2000 educational opportunities within the period.
FOCAC 15 years checklist
“In a publication of the China Africa Press Centre (CAPC) ion Beijing last year to review the benefits of FOCAC in 15 years, it stated that China had visited Africa 149 times, average of 10 visits a year
At the same time, African state parties of FOCAC visited China 379 times, signs of virile interaction and also that FOCAC is really alive and not just drafts on paper.
The China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) though for a larger worldwide China diplomatic image marketing, has done so much to encourage the media exchange of the FOCAC.
It is the CPDA that hosts the Fellowship of African journalists in China that lasts almost a full year.
Forty seven African journalists have either taken part in or are currently on the fellowship just at its third session. On the average, by the time the Fellowship would have gone 10 full years, possibly over 250 Fellows would have been produced,” he indicated.
Emewu was the first African journalist in the history of the China media fellowship to be nominated to present a paper at the multilateral forum. He was nominated for his outstanding role so far in the fellowship in addition in his capacity as the leader of the 28 African journalists from 27 countries taking part in the programme. He presented his paper alongside the Vice President of the CCTV, Beijing and chief executives government media agencies in three African countries.
“The true meaning of China Africa relationship is in knowing each other better and working together. People relate better when they know themselves better, and I am sure that those of us that have been part of this exchange have a deeper and better understanding of China. Likewise, those Chinese that handle the programe here in Beijing would have through their interaction with African journalists got a different impression of Africa and the people even if they have not visited Africa.
African journalists here have been exposed to some platforms they never knew prior to the Fellowship. They have met and even African leaders they never knew and are aware of impacts they never knew China has made in Africa in various sectors.
The fellows also met and made friends with fellow African journalists they never knew before coming to China. The capacity enhancement is inter Africa, (China/Africa) and intra Africa (Between African countries)
They have travelled and cut deep experiences to make them better journalists with international exposure.
Many would return to Africa with better mindsets to task African leaders on good leadership having learnt what good leadership has done to grow China, and with knowledge of the damage poor leadership has done to Africa.
They are better informed to challenge African leaders to do things differently and also to challenge the situations like China did.
Above all, they have learnt that if China can, African countries can as well.
Journalists are more open minded than politicians and government officials that benefit from bad leaderships in Africa. So, the benefits of the media exchange are far deeper than imagined.
Further on the gains, Emewu in his presentation recalled that: “Among the FCDA Media Fellows of this year, one has been awarded scholarship for her further studies in China with effect from next year immediately after she is through with the fellowship.
Last year September, The Sun reporter on the International Desk and Foreign Missions got a scholarship of the China Nigeria media exchange to study for his masters degree in the Harbin Institute of Technology. He is about rounding off the programme.
In the first week of May this year, six senior journalists from Nigeria visited China at the behest of the All China Journalists Association and toured about three provinces after meetings with foreign affairs ministry officials. There were, at least, 25 Nigerian senior editors that visited China in April and the last week of October last year, which I was to be part of in October but could not make it. These visits are just enriching and involve training and interactions that enhance the competence of the participating professionals,” he stated.
The China Radio International operates a vibrant exchange and enhancement with six African countries and employs tens of African journalists in China and Africa while many other attend trainings. That has also been the case with the CCTV in Africa that has caused a change in the reporting format of Africa by international TV stations that now focuses on the positives of Africa.
Emewu delivered this lecture at the Beijing media forum, China