Monday, April 09, 2007

Grouchy Quibble #1

Once upon a time, I used to believe what I read in the newspaper. It seems such a long time ago now. One little thing that riled me during my holiday was this article in El Pais de Murdoch.

It says something about the janjaweed "ending centuries of peaceful co-existence" between Arab and non-Arab tribes in eastern Chad. It also says: "The Dajo tribe, who have resisted the Janjaweed, rely on traditional spears and bows and arrows tipped with poisonous tree resin. The weapons are for hunting antelope, not people, and for centuries they have needed nothing more lethal." (Clamly emphasis)

This is all just stuff somebody made up. I have no idea why. The French did not conquer Chad from native Chadians: they conquered it from Sudanese Arab warlords who had recently swanned in with rifles in an earlier wave of militant Islam. These were followers of the 'Mahdi' of Siege of Khartoum fame. Before that, there were earlier waves of Arabs and Arabised Muslims moving in from the east. It is not an area with any impressive tradition of peaceful coexistence. You can google this if you like; don't just trust me...

Of course, I should be getting cross about the horrible events, not the shoddy reporting of the horrible events: but shoddy reporting is one reason why Western countries so often stuff up the handling of horrible events in foreign countries so badly. :(

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I have not believed what I have read in newspapers since I was 11 and won a painting competition. My little brother came second and the newspaper misquoted him terribly. Eventually I appreciated this early disillusionment from the media as it ensured I was not sucked into the "as long as its a good story" grasp of reality that most media seem to have. Also, the more they think they can get away with it (ie one of those foreign country stories), the more they will abuse the privlege.