Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Rageh Omaar is a product of Oxford with a quick brain, elegant diction and a self assuredness that can not be rattled

Rageh Omaar is a former BBC's Africa correspondent, whose sterling work during the Iraq war is reported to have made him a household name. Omaar was born in Somalia, and educated at Cheltenham Boy's School and Oxford University, where he gained a BA in Modern History. Omaar is married and has two children. He began his journalistic career as a trainee for the Voice newspaper, and in 1991 he moved to Ethiopia where he freelanced as a foreign correspondent, working mainly for the World Service. A year later, he returned to London to work as a producer and broadcast journalist for the BBC. He moved to South Africa after being appointed the BBC's Africa correspondent. Many of his broadcasts were syndicated across the U.S., where the Washington Post labelled him the 'Scud Stud'. Omaar is also a recipient of the British EMMA (Ethnic Multicultural Media Award) award for the Best Media Correspondent.

Omaar has never forgotten his Somali roots and is a strong advocate for the Somali community in Britain. Omaar's new book Only Half of Me, provides a personal glimpse into Omaars experiences as a Somali descedent living in Britain. Omaar relates not just to his East African roots (his parents have returned to northern Somalia) but to the experiences of Somali family members. Omaar's parents emigrated to Britain by choice however members of his extended family came to the Britain as refugees seeking assylum running away from the civil unrest in Somalia.

"... I did have close relatives who fled wars and who lived in Mogadishu during the US intervention, and went through that appalling experience, and who have been asylum-seekers. It's not something that even many of my colleagues in the BBC knew about. They just saw Rageh, a very privileged bloke. But it has been very important to the way I've approached the world and has made me who I am. It has perhaps given me a different perspective to many other colleagues who have not had relatives who have gone through the experiences we are reporting on every day." From the interview with 'The independent'

He is a source of inspiration to many Black and Asian people and feels that although things are changing significantly in the rise of people from ethnic minorities in the media there is still a long way to go.

It is time, he says, for news organisations to "fess up" and make clear that many of the pictures that comprise what are effectively "pooled reports" have been shot by anonymous Iraqi freelancers, whilst the Western journalists have remained inside the protected Green Zone in Baghdad. "If we as an industry don't grapple with the question of putting up a health warning then we will slowly but surely have some of the legitimacy sapped from us."

Omaar has no regrets after walking out on the BBC. In an interview with The Independent a British newspaper, Omaar perceives western news organisations are perpetrating a “fraud” on their viewers with their misleading coverage of the war in Iraq, the conflict in which he established himself as an internationally-recognised journalist. Omaar’s fear is that if atrocities and scandals in Iraq are later brought to light by Non-Governmental Organisations or other non-journalistic bodies, the public will feel betrayed by the journalist who should have been airing this issues in the first place.

On Al Jazeera Omaar believes that the reputation bestowed upon Al Jazeera is unfair because it has dared to "throw political and cultural hand-grenades" into an Arab world formerly used to the censored reports of state broadcasters. For example when the storm over the abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib was at its height, Al Jazeera dared to point out that conditions in regular Arab jails were appalling too.

Omaar's asserts in his interview with 'The Independent' that his new stint with Al Jazeera will approach news-gathering from a different perspective,and will feature reports from Cuba, Iran and other countries whose film-makers he claims are invariably ignored by Western broadcasters.

Omaar claims Al Jazeera has no allegiances. "It won't be beholden to one sensibility...This is not an organisation that's going to have to watch its back in terms of what newspapers write about it. The worst has been said already." (The Independent Newspaper)

More Information on the interview with 'The Independent' Click Here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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Of all Blogs, I rate yours as an educative blog, an african blog, really african and most to be respected.

God bless you man, as you come up with very important and sometimes sensitive topics.

Big up and take care