Invasion 1897 premiere and the role of media


Written by Simba SMP

It is arguable that subconsciously people are controlled by the media or it at least influences how people think, behave or view the world. It is also common knowledge that all black people originated from Africa but due to colonialism, slavery, economical and social factors people of African descent are now scattered all over the globe. However, due to a wide variety of reasons, present generations of the people of African descent, both young and old have lost touch with their roots, culture, beliefs and history. Some of those reasons include lack of proper enlightenment in the education systems, acculturation and biased media.

During slavery the western slave owners mostly tried to keep their slaves out of education for fear of activating their brains. At the height of imperialism the higher institutions of learning were mostly a preserve of the whites. This meant that Africans’ understanding of the world they lived in was very minimal, only the master in control had access to all the knowledge. In essence, you can not sensibly argue about something you have never heard of. This can also be used to argue that those in control of the media can easily control people’s minds. For example, it is disturbing that some people of African descent have never had the opportunity to understand the common denominator between Africa and the Caribbean. Resultantly such people mostly see the world from a western perspective, or from the contemporary platforms but still lack a deeper understanding of themselves. If one looks at today’s kids of African descent born or living in the western world, their thinking will greatly differ from an African kid in the Caribbean or Africa itself. This is obviously due to the different surroundings, different media, acculturation and different educational curriculum.

This then brings my gist of the story, the role of the media. In today’s world everyone can now at least have a chance for basic literacy and there has been a dramatic improvement in regards to opportunities for enlightenment. The arrival of the internet has made it easier to transmit information and citizen journalism has thrived in expanding the flow of unrestricted information. In recent years the arrival of social media has meant that there is no limit to how much one can learn. It is also now difficult to control news and information unlike in the past because people can now use the internet to avail information from books, newspapers and films to a wider audience. Lately many people of African descent, after learning the media craft, formerly a preserve of their masters, they have upped their game and seem unstoppable. There are now many movies offline and online to counter previous propaganda, deliberate distortions by past imperialists and dictators and feeling out gaps in various educational curriculums. Anyone can now use the media (on-line)to educate, remove mental slavery, empower and instil a sense of pride to the previously marginalised.

IMG_7318 IMG_7323 IMG_7307 IMG_7313 Above: Premiere of the movie Invasion 1897 at the BFI in London

Recently there was a movie called Invasion 1897 which highlights how the British invaded the kingdom of Benin in 1897. Such movies are important for educational, cultural and enlightenment purposes. By watching such kind of movies, it is clear that both young and old can regain their self esteem and understand that we can not successfully conquer the future if we do not know where we are coming from. For us to plan for the future, we first have to understand our past. Yes, what happened in the past should not be used to judge people today, but it can help us to understand who we really are and why we behave the way we do.

When I went to the recent premiere of the film Invasion 1897 at the BFI in London, there was a question and answer session, which in itself was like a brilliant history lesson. The BFI seem to be doing a good job courtesy of their African Odyssey platform that focus on films including people of African origin. It was a good sight to see all people from white, Asian and African origin being brought together under one roof and sharing past history in harmony. Massive credit should be given to the event organisers and makers of the film led by Producer/Director Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen. Some people who came with an ignorant attitude came out with a new sense of pride, purpose, enlightenment and restored self belief. The film was made from an African perspective, though it features a cast from both the African and British backgrounds. Even though it has not yet played widely in the mainstream cinemas, it is still remarkable how much it has managed to penetrate and educate a wider margin of its targeted audience. The power of the media in bringing enlightenment is unstoppable!



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