Speech Delivered by Momodou Sabally, Director General, Gambia Radio and Television Services on the Occasion of the Networking Event for International Media Co-hosted by China International Communications Center (CICC) and the Research and Training Institute ofthe State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) on the theme “Encounters at CICC: How to Share our Stories with the World”
Topic: How to promote domestic culture to the world with good story telling skills for an enhanced international presence June 24, 2016
The theme for this event is apt in that a global monoculture has dominated the international arena for decades by use of the dominant and domineering western media behemoths.
This state of affairs shortchanges not only those cultures that have less means for propagating their stories but also those controlling the media facilities.
The fact remains that no culture is perfect and the world will only become a better and more joyful, as well as meaningful, experience if different cultures borrow and lend to each other. Just like international development is aided by the trade of material goods and services; our global cultural order will become bigger and better only if we exchange cultural goods and services in as balanced a manner as possible.
In the Quran, Allah tells us in verse 13 of the chapter Hujurat:O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that youmay know each other (not that you may despise (each other).
From the above verse, we can discern that it was Allah’s will that there should be diversity in this world; and given that He, in the above verse has mentioned tribes, then the cultural diversity is implied as well.
From the above verse, we should also learn that there is no need for cultural imperialism/proselytizing because the beauty of the human race lies in its diversity and we can learn from each other if we tolerate and encourage diversity.
The People’s Republic of China has made tectonic shifts in upending the current global onslaught of a synthetic monoculture asyou have stunned the world in socio-economic progress and now started a nascent dominance in telling yourown story for the world to hear – God bless CICC; and thank you for offering us the opportunity to share your resources on your Video China new media platform!
Now that technological progress is giving us access to the very tools that the West has used to spread a monoculture, it is our responsibility to cooperate and tell our own stories, in the words of my country’s national anthem, “towards the common good”! Yes this is in all of humanity’s interest because a culturally diverse world is a better world for all and sundry. This envisaged new ethos can be attained in many ways, among them, this:
- As media practitioners, we should take control of our respective national narratives by doing research from within; and finding the beauty in what we have and presenting it in our own way; byglobal standards but within our context.
- Also it’s important that we take the artistic licence to glamour and apply it to what we have;just like what CNN and Hollywood does; we need to makeour stories sexy.
- Gambian case: The Kaddy Kebbeh legend, and Lalo Kebba narratives,currently being run with local musical instrument kora in the backgroundon Radio Gambia; are narrated, recorded for tv and streamed online with propagation on social media. This is our new twist to leveraging new media to propagate our own local stories of great cultural significance.
With huge potentials for new media and equal challenges facing my country and that of other African countries present at this forum, I wasinspired by the Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs’ Quoting of an African delegate’s statement at a previous edition of the China-Africa Media Forum: as Africa climbs the mountain of digital media, we are proud to have China Stand by us!
Therefore the theme of Win-win cooperation adopted for this year’s China-Africa Media Forum could not have been better hatched. The challenge is clear but the extant opportunities are equally alluring for any discerning mind. We will harness the great potential of this forum-cum-platform and the results would be nothing short of transformational.
Africa’s history, marked with glory as well as domineering foreign intervention and robbery, has a lot in common with that of China.
The positive energy in thishall heralds a new world for us as partners. A world that would see a people determined and emboldened for a dignified progress that is not only lived and felt but also told and heard across the world with the aid of the transformational power of all media platforms, especially the digital one.
From The Gambia, known for our sobriquet, The Smiling Coast of Africa, we extend a hand of friendship and cooperation on behalf of the African continent to work with China towards sharing our rich stories with the world with a view to engendering (for ourselves) enhanced international presence.
Former Presidential Affairs Minister of The Gambia, Momodou Sabally is the current Director General of The Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) as well as Managing Director and Editor-In-Chief of The Gambia’s leading newspaper, The Daily Observer. Mr. Sabally has authored many books and published op-ed essays for major international publication like the New African Magazine.