Africa Film WebMeeting

Message from: Katerina Papadatou (
About: Re: Is the message corrupting the messenger

Thu, 4 Apr 1996 10:47:55 -0500

Originally from: Katerina Papadatou <>
Originally dated: Thu, 4 Apr 1996 10:47:55 -0500

Muhonjia Khaminwa wrote:

>I am interested in starting a discussion on the subject of how the use of
>"art" forms by people who are involved in what (no matter how well
>intentioned) is propagandizing or disseminating a particular message,
>e.g. Embroidering fabrics with family planning slogans, affects the
>artistic value of the medium.

I would like to make some remarks to your argumentation: Firstly, It seems
that you are more concerned with the content (i.e. family planning slogans)
than with the principle. Secondly, you put the question of legitimation for
the use of traditional expression forms (textile embroidery) for other
purposes than the "traditional" ones. Well, I don't know about which country
you are talking but in West Africa I've seen similar textiles (pagne) that
promote this or the other political party, specially during the latest
elections. And this is not "imported" from Europe or the West in general.
Thus, we arrive at the next question, this of legitimation. 'Do foreign
organisations (presupposed) have the right to propagate birth controls in an
African country, by using traditional means?' or better: is the theme of
birth controls relevant in this country? If it is, I don't see the reason
not to propagate with the help of traditional means of communication. The
means as such is neutral, nobody has predefined the messages that can be
transferred. Furthermore, I find your consideration of embroidered textiles
as voice of the community a little bit extravagant.

>And does this process magnified over in television series that are really
>again vehicles for family planning messages reduce the ability of the
>medium to effectively address issues that the community would like to
>resolve on the screen?

I don't really see how television series, be that American or European are
vehicles for family planning messages, as you write. I see them more
(specially the American) as a propagation of the so called "western
lifestyle" and also as a distortion of the American/European realities. A
lot of people in
Africa and elsewhere believe all Americans and/or Europeans are rich, nice,
successful etc. (the world of Dallas and Dynasty...) Nobody makes serials
about poverty, slums, ghettos etc. But this problematic is a much wider
one, that has to do with the bad economic situation of the majority if not
all of the African states that prohibit own productions. Even the imported
series are usually B-movies, for the same reason.

K. P.
Katerina Papadatou

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