It was a disaster and a loss of life that should have been felt by everyone on the continent.
A church building collapsed on more than a hundred of people in Lagos as many of them prayed. The collapse of the Joshua Church hostel building in Lagos saw 130 people pulled from the rubble and scores die on a day in which many had flown the length of the continent merely to worship.
What a story of human interest and tragedy. A story largely ignored by much of the African media who should hold their heads in shame. There was dramatic security camera footage of the collapse of the building and conspiracy theories about a plane flying over just before the rubble came down.
If a dozen people – never mind more than a hundred – had been crushed to death in such a way in Europe or the United States it would have been given blanket TV coverage on the news channels. There would have been full screen graphics of how and where the tragedy happened. There would have been follow ups on the rescue and an inquest into how the building came down. Relatives would have been interviewed, a help line set up and the security camera footage analysed frame-by-frame to see what had gone wrong and veracity of the plane flying overheard story. Church groups would have been interviewed for their views.
Experts would have been called into the studio to discuss the safety of buildings and the rectitude of the rescue efforts if the tragedy had happened in Washington or Birmingham.
In Africa, no such thing; the tragedy happened on September 12 to little more than a whimper in the press. In the South African media – which all too often suffers from holding the telescope the wrong way round - there was barely a ripple. It was so bad that when President Jacob Zuma woke up to the fact that 67 South Africans died in the collapse four days later - the largest number of South Africans to die abroad in recent history. Many journalists, ignorant of the collapse, thought it was a new story and hit the phones. Many turned away from the story when they realised it had happened days before.
This scenario says a lot about the perception of the cheapness of life in Africa and the ability of the continent to go along with the idea that is at the root of much of the thin end of the wedge that this continent suffers unfairly from. It is in our hands, as journalists and citizens of this continent to change this. Those who don’t have the energy or vision to do this – shame on you.