Africa’s Media: Democracy and Belonging

Francis B. Nyamnjoh

in Media and Identity in Africa

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780748635221
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653010 | DOI:
Africa’s Media: Democracy and Belonging

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In popular as well as academic circles, there are varying degrees of certainty about the extent to which media influence Africans. Contrary to the popular understanding of media as magic multipliers capable of stimulating or dulling the senses of those who receive them, media effects are neither direct, simple nor immediate. Torn between competing and conflicting understandings of democracy, media find it increasingly difficult to marry rhetoric with practice, and for strategic and instrumentalist reasons may opt for a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality. This has meant propagating liberal democratic rhetoric in principle while at the same time promoting the struggles for recognition and representation of the various cultural, ethnic or sectarian groups with which they identify. This chapter argues that the politics of belonging is central to understanding democracy in Africa and the role of the media in promoting democratic pluralism. The predicament faced by media in this regard emphasises the need for more domesticated understandings of democracy as mediated by the quest for conviviality between individual and community interests.

Keywords: African media; democratisation; politics of belonging; democratic pluralism

Chapter.  6240 words. 

Subjects: African Studies

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