Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reality TV ?

One lone and very dusty TV set occupies a place of honor in the meeting hall of the Narus compound where I stay when visiting St Bakhita School in South Sudan.  It sits atop an old wooden cabinet, next to a wall clock forever stuck at eleven minutes to six. The TV is on for an hour or two each evening, powered by a generator. It gets only one station: CCTV, an African version of Chinese state broadcasts. Under the guise of world news, it treats us nightly to a peculiar perspective on current events. My favorite was a recent documentary about how the Chinese government honors the Tibetan culture by “preserving” its monasteries as museums. The videography was stunning but the narrator neglected to mention China’s systematic oppression of Tibetan people and religion. Or its imprisonment of monks and nuns. Or its forced relocation into Tibet of tens of thousands of ethnic Chinese to replace the indigenous Tibetans. 

Well, I watched the station several times. There isn’t much else to do once darkness falls. Each night without fail, at about 9:00pm and lit only by the glow of the TV screen, a small swarm of bats swoops up and outward from some secret hideaway behind the wooden TV cabinet, lurches lopsidedly around the room and eventually settles onto upside down perches from the ceiling.  Now, THAT’s reality TV!  

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