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African-American Journalist Pens “New News Out of Africa”

Book reviewers are greeting warmly a new book on Africa by African-American journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault. The book is called "New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa’s Renaissance." One reviewer called it "the only decent introduction to Africa today," while another says it’s "an excellent overview of Africa’s current progressive trend." VOA's Mariama Diallo Crandall caught up with Charlayne Hunter-Gault and has this report.

Some know Charlayne Hunter-Gault as the first African-American woman who famously integrated the University of Georgia amid racial discrimination, personal threats, and student riots. Former africa bureau chief for CNN, she is now National Public Radio’s foreign correspondent living in South Africa. As a young girl she said, she could never have imagined living in Africa but after covering the continent for so many years, her appetite has only grown stronger.

"I think Africa is older than man," she said. "Across the continent, more and more countries are becoming democratic, so even though they’re old – they’re really new in terms of this new way of existence where they’re respecting human rights and the rights of women. I used to think that you had to be really old to be a witness to history, but I have witnessed a lot of history, even when I was 19 years old - -witnessing the change in the American South. So now I have a whole second chance to see another part of history in the making."

As an award-winning journalist, she’s covered all facets of Africa - from apartheid to the Rwandan genocide to the birth of new democracies and growing economies… is Africa making progress fast enough to catch up with the rest of the world?

"Africa faces a lot of challenges," she said. "Some of them were created or abetted by the West. So it is going to take time. But if you look at South Africa – the economic engine of the continent and its efforts to get its arms around its own poverty – it is making strides. There are efforts being made by some in the West to helping Africa. So if there is a real comment on the part of those who have to help those who do not have, I think there is a real possibility that Africa can join the family of global nations in a very important way."

"New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa’s Renaissance," the title of Hunter-Gault’s book is looking beyond what she calls the four "d’s". She explains…

She said, "When I returned to America all I saw was news through the prism of the African apocolyse: death, disease, disaster and despair. The book is not a romanticized (version) of Africa, but it attempts to give a more balanced look at the continent, some of the good things that are happening, like the new rules of the road …what the African Union has come up with to get transparency, accountability, respect for human rights and empowerment for women."

"If people think that it’s all death, disease, disaster, and despair and that nothing they do will make a difference, then they will just close their pocket books and shut down their expertise to a continent woefully in need of these things, and they just put their money and their effort somewhere else. Well, here is a continent that deserves better than that. "