English / Journalism

Out of Africa

-Did you know that a white farmer is killed every five days in South Africa? That Nigerian Islamists Boko Haram Burnt 375 Christians alive and that the UNICEF-led programme to eradicate polio in the north of Nigeria was actually a plot to infect the population with HIV-AIDS and sterilise Muslims?  You may have nearly fallen for the first two, but, in fact, all are untrue.


This comes from a very interesting Guardian article last Saturday about the misinformation that comes out of Africa (though even the briefest acquaintance with Fox “News” will show you that this is not limited to Africa by any means). This type of misinformation not only stokes the fires of hatred but also hampers efforts to vaccinate or treat those who are ill.  Monica Mark’s article (which you can read here) focuses on a new website, Africa Check, founded by journalist Peter Cunliffe-Jones which fact-checks stories and statements from the continent, or, in the words of the website, sorts “fact from fiction.” The site, with its headquarters in Johannesburg’s Witwatersrand University Journalism Department also investigates readers’ leads concerning information or claims they have come across.  Anton Harber, a co-founder and former investigative journalist explains the project’s aim.  “I imagine a situation in which every public figure and journalist feels nervous about what they say or write because Africa Check might just catch them out.”  I urge you to visit the website here if you haven’t already done so.