Africa, defined by outside, has been viewed in the bipolar narratives of good and evil. Lately, the "rise of the middle class" dominates, calling for investment and telling foreigners the bad times are over. GREG NICOLSON looks at a new report that grounds the issue and should offer South Africa its own opportunities while leaving the Hollywood narratives for Hollywood.
1990s: Kurt Cobain, bless him, dies. The Spice Girls spice up our lives. Baywatch runs for the whole decade; yes, the whole decade. Gangsta rappers actually act gangster. The Real World paves the way for reality TV. And Africa, oh Africa, is a failure of structural adjustment programmes, torn by countries' inability to unite citizens (subjects, really) beyond colonial divisions, beyond nepotism and a TIA disease of corruption, violence and poverty. There's Mandela, but otherwise?
2000s: Beyonce goes solo. Aaliyah, bless her, dies. The Kings of Leon emerge. The OC, Arrested Development, Gilmore Girls and, frighteningly, High School Musical hit the screen and Kanye West, pre-Kim, blows up. Along the way, so does Africa. The Dark Continent finds Leonardo DiCaprio and a glimmer of light.
These narratives of "the hopeless continent" and "Africa rising", pumped by the West, woven into...