“Granny Fight Club” (2017) is a documentary about a self-defence course taught to old women in the slums of Nairobi to protect them from rape. The course is taught by “Ujamma”, an NGO. The documentary was filmed by RT, a news outlet in Russia.
It was filmed in Korogocho, one of the worst slums of Kenya according to RT. Part of it was also filmed at the nearby Dandoro dump, where some of the women make a living finding things to sell. We hear the stories of rape and see the self-defence course being taught. The women are taught to shout “No!” and to hurt the man in a weak spot (eyes, nose, chin, testicles). They are trained in several self-defence moves.
You would think old women would be free from rape. But they are seen as going through a “secondary virginity”, so some teenage boys go after them, believing that sex with them will cure AIDS.
“Ujamma” is misspelled, as I found out from a Google search. Ujamaa Africa is an NGO founded by Dr Jake Sinclair, a White doctor in the US, and his wife. The website says he is “a passionate advocate for young victims of domestic and sexual violence and has developed several youth empowerment programs in the USA and Africa.”
RT gets its money from the Russian government. It presents itself as being free from the bias found in Western news, but in this case it is not. Rape, poverty, AIDS, Africa – you see it so much that there is a name for it: the Broken Africa stereotype.
Most RT documentaries on Africa seem to be little better. They are about stuff like:
- child brides,
- child soldiers,
- street boys,
- witch kids,
- garbage dumps,
- refugee camps,
- tribesmen visiting Russia,
- poor people who “waste” money on nice clothes (Les Sapeurs),
- camel races.
Of the three less stereotypical stories – about Nollywood, Mount Kilimanjaro and West African fishing – two seem to be centred on White people.
This is not to say that the issues covered in these documentaries are not serious. Many are. Rape is most certainly a serious issue. But there is no balance.
Stories: This week I am getting all my news from RT. And after four days, this documentary is the only thing I have seen about Africa – or about any Black people anywhere. RT presents itself as covering world news.
Employees: RT has at least one Black employee, Ashlee Banks – I saw her once, a few weeks ago – but not so far this week. Except for one Asian woman, everyone has been White, mostly with British and North American accents.
Bias in the news is pushed not so much by untrue facts but by the selection of facts. The documentary by itself was not bad – they even let Black people do all the talking, something you do not always see. But when it is the main thing I am seeing of Africa and of Black people, and when it fits a stereotype, that is bias.
– Abagond, 2017.
- YouTube: Granny Fight Club – 28 minutes
- Programming note #32 – my RT news diet
- propaganda model