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African Affairs

I'm drawn to traditional African art out of my own pursuit of a wholistic, or integrated, understanding of everyday life in the sub-Saharan. I'm especially fascinated by African efforts to balance traditional forms and values with contemporary practices and aspirations. By encountering the forms and images of African artists, both known and unknown, I am inspired and humbled.

Since 2000, I’ve spent a good deal of time traveling, reporting and studying in Africa. In 2002 and 2003, I lived in Accra, Ghana on a hill overlooking the city's Independence Square. More recently, I've spent considerable time in Uganda, where under a grant from the National Science I studied the emergence of academic computer science community centered around Makerere University in Kampala. In addition to working as a journalist in Africa, I also consulted for non-profit organizations and for foundations. In 2003, I cofounded the Africa operations of Journalists for Human Rights, a media training organization. From 2007-2009, I've consulted for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation on African agriculture, health and media. 

My work on Africa ranges widely over politics, social issues, business and technology and culture. I have avoided following the media herd, and I resist reporting on the sorts of disaster-disease-and-mayhem subjects that reinforce the image of Africa as hopeless and Africans as brutal, stupid or both. The picture I present of Africa is partial, biased in favor of hopefulness, positive action and constructive role models. I am ever aware of the disappointments, inequalities and sheer misery in many parts of Africa, but I have not yet chosen to allow these realities to fully define my view of this fascinating region.

Usually, I'm a critic of Western media representations of Africa (and I don't exclude myself from criticism either). My own relationships with individual Africans inform my critique of the mainstream "narrative" of the role of Africa and Africans.