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Larry Madowo spars with ‘The Economist’ journalist over hard-hitting opinion piece

An opinion piece written by BBC Africa Business Editor Larry Madowo criticising the western media on how they choose to cover Africa has sparked varied reactions from the online community.

Mr Madowo’s piece titled “Africa is doing just fine – it’s the coverage by Western media that is behind the times,” bashed the west for always portraying Africa as a continent plagued with war, famine and other calamities.

He touched on some of the positives including having one of the fastest internet connectivity, technology like mobile money transactions, and ban on plastics among other things.

“It is easy to caricature Africa and define it narrowly using its wars, famine, and disease, but that is lazy and misguided. Nobody reduces the whole of Europe to just homelessness, racism, and massive inequality so why should Africa be so easily dismissed?” read part of his article.

He added: “There is an entire generation of African innovators, doers and trailblazers tackling some of the world’s most intractable challenges using homegrown solutions.”


His views irked some people online including members of the press in the west who felt that his comments were offensive and not fair.

Daniel Knowles from the Economist wrote, “Expected much better of Larry than this regurgitated panglossian rubbish. Rwanda has more female parliamentarians than anywhere else, but also they don’t matter at all, because it has one dictator (a man) who murders anyone who disagrees.”

Which Larry quickly responded saying, “And here we see a journalist with The Economist whitesplaining Africa to an African.”

Author Ben Coates commented, “C’mon Larry, this is a beneath a BBC journalist. People should be entitled to politely disagree with stuff you write without you responding by bringing up their race. Seriously, what would you say if Economist rejected your critique of an article on grounds that you’re African?”

Mr Madowo gave his rejoinder, “English is my third language so forgive me if I’m wrong but is ‘regurgitated panglossian rubbish’ politely disagreeing?”


Kenyans on Twitter were also not left behind as they rallied behind the former NTV News anchor.

“Truth be told this is Africa to the world memo well crafted. Nice one,” said @Mawiralau.

“Why does it become an issue when African writers tell African stories the African way?” asked @realnyangah.

“Tell them the truth Larry, in fact respond to them in dholuo. Ok wasech,” wrote @nyamai_jobic.

“This is what happens when we control the narrative. Let us tell our story. The ignorant West is and will always be the thorn in our flesh. Even our governance issues are brought about by their selfish interests. Thank you for this,” commented Sauti Sol group member Bien Aime.

“Beautifully & thoughtfully written!” stated Mohammed Shitany.