Don't Bury the Good News
Two brutal wars end--and no one hears about it. Why does only bad news hit the front page?
BY: Tony Lobl
Dinner for one at "Chez Lobl," in London. I am quietly reading a Sunday newspaper while munching a very English meal of steak and kidney pie. I pour myself another glass of sparkling elderflower pressé. I turn another page of the paper. And there it is. A small item on page 19.
Sudan has ended its 19-year-old war. A brutal civil war that involved impassioned political and religious differences and the enslavement of civilians. Even hunger was used as a weapon against civilians. This war that has killed millions is now most likely over. It is, at the least, drawing its last breath. And that news is tucked away on page 19!
Didn't this happen a few months back in Angola? A long and bloody civil war came to an end without raising headlines. And were you aware of this fact: "Most of Africa enjoyed rapid growth last year, pushing average gross domestic product to 4%." ("Report finds some optimism for Africa-growth rate outstrips rest of the developing world," The Voice, July 22, 2002).
In Africa, it seems, you have to be tragic to make page one in the outside world. But can't we celebrate the good in this great continent as loudly as we highlight its calamities and chronic challenges?
Looking at the details in Sudan, it may be premature to shout about this one from the rooftops. Further talks await in August before a final deal is signed. But, according to the article, "In a surprise announcement negotiators for the Islamic government of the north and leaders of the main rebel movement from the Christian and animist south said yesterday they had resolved the conflict." ("Sudanese see end to Africa's longest war," The Observer, July 21).
To me, as one of those (from inside and outside the country) who have been praying earnestly about this conflict for almost two decades, that seems like good enough news to make the front page. If peace is pending, let's highlight it. If common sense appears to be prevailing over the military clash of wills, let's floodlight it. If Muslims and their Christian and animist "rivals" have seen a way to address the balance of sharia (Islamic law) and non-sharia law in the country's constitution, let's hold that up for closer inspection.