‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds!.’

These words, spoken by prominent Jamaican civil rights militant–Marcus Garvey in the early 20th Century, were made popular by his fellow countryman Bob Marley in his 'Redemption Song'.

These words, spoken by prominent Jamaican civil rights militant–Marcus Garvey in the early 20th Century, were made popular by his fellow countryman Bob Marley in his ‘Redemption Song’.

Here, Bob adds: ‘have no fear for atomic energy, for none of them can stop the time’. This piece is about this second line.

In my story on the creation of an African Al-Jazeera two weeks ago, I may have sounded intimidating, many told me, for I did not give an indicative figure of how much it may have cost the Qatari prince to set up Al-Jazeera.

Let’s get that out of the way: His Highness Cheikh Hamad ben Khalifa Al Thani availed a loan of 145 million dollars as the initial investment in creating Al-Jazeera.

To put things in perspective, that’s less than building Kigali Heights and/or two Rwandair aircraft, and today the network is worth billions of dollars.

For comparison’s sake, the movie ‘Black Panther’ was made with a 200 million dollar budget, which it paid back in just one week-end. As I write this, the film has grossed over a billion dollars in just over two months.

That tells us that not only African misery sells, African dreams do too.

But the media is not free in Africa, others tell me. Well, Al-Jazeera was started by a country that applies Sharia Law and which has been accused of funding global terrorism. I hope with that you get the bigger picture.

The army has an approach called ‘hitting the ground running’, all the ‘analysis-paralysis’ for starting a global network is in vain. A powerful African Network is not only the sensible thing to do; it is also a golden business opportunity.

Quoting a memorable speech by Haile Selassie, Bob Marley intones in: ‘War!’: ‘until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another, inferior, is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war… War in the East, war in the west, war up north, war down south, everywhere is war; War!’

Africa has suffered from war for too long, wars which are based on simple misunderstandings.

Africa has also lost the arms race. We will never catch up, but we need not even pursue that goal because, like racism, it is a barbaric and primitive human goal. Yet we may still have a fighting chance on the information front and that what’s bob meant when he said; ‘have no fear for atomic energy, cause none of them can stop the time.’

By time, Bob Marley meant ‘The New Times’, the ‘New York Times’, and ‘A Time Warner’; he meant the media. If you control the information, you may fear no guns, for if you have weapons without information, the same weapons are used internally and are turned against your own people; DR Congo and America being the two telling examples; ‘kwihekura; kwikora/kwirasa munda’.

Information is cheaper, much cheaper than bombs, except, it requires sophistication.

As we saw during the Arab Spring, the media has the power to call communities and masses to descend into the streets, to paralyses the life of a nation and topple tyrants, but also to work hard, help one another and save the world.

Look at what happened to Gadhaffi who had a well-equipped arsenal, or worse, Saddam Hussein; all global media conspired to report that he had weapons of mass destruction, in the end it turned out they were lying.

Without Al-Jazeera, Qatar would probably have been annihilated by its neighbours and or any other superpower by now.

In barbaric times, armies charged at one another and beat each other to death, raped women and pillaged cities; they wore scary masks and painted their faces. That was in pre-history. Instead of developing a nuclear warhead like North Korea we must establish a way of controlling information, for the next war will be digital and one of intelligence.

Rwandan peacekeepers are known globally to be most disciplined and humane. That doesn’t stop French media from using them as an avatar for their stories on sexual abuses, usually conducted by French troops. We complain all we want; they laugh it off and do it again and again.

Today there is no deterrent to attacking Africa. Arabs are able to resist invasion, because their Arabic language and Islam religion serve as fortresses. Chinese have theirs Mandarin and Buddhism; WE ARE EXPOSED! Naked, disarmed. Our hearts, minds and souls all captured!

We speak the imperialist language, pray to their gods; for Christ sake, we give colonial names to our own children! We have voluntarily surrendered; we have performed, way beyond our oppressors’ wildest expectations; in that regard we are impressive.

On that, I hope I have convinced someone to sign us a cheque of 145 million dollars; the money will be used to set up offices in Lagos, Cairo, Johannesburg, Kigali, Addis, but also in London, New York, Beijing and Riyadh.

The money will be used too, to build state-of-the-art-studios, to buy broadcasting space on satellites; to train and recruit world-class journalists.

We will have monopoly coverage of AU events, African leaders, African Breaking News; if we can’t control the global narrative, at least we will control the African narrative.

The 145 million dollars will be paid back in less than ten years, with interest, on the day that the African Network goes public simultaneously on the SA, NGA, KGL, Accra and Cairo stock markets! I am currently going to an expensive business school for this single purpose.

It will also be a nine figure conglomerate employing tens of thousands of African technicians, designers, content creators and giving exposure to millions more African businesses, worldwide.

It has been said of Africans that ‘they too need change, but just not right now’; it is time to disprove that bias.


The views expressed in this article are of the author.