You’ll have heard me talking in the past about working with a group, Simua, which we hoped would give birth to a campaign to challenge stereotypes of Africa perpetuated by the media, by NGOs, by our governments, by us. For various reasons we didn’t launch it, so I am so unbelievably delighted to see #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou taking off on Twitter.
You might remember that my initial reasons for writing this blog were these:
“as I have become more involved in the world of international development and increasingly started to wonder about how effective some of the practices are, and how seemingly patronising some of the representations are of ‘developing countries’.”
And it’s so true. Google Africa. Go to images and you’ll see, amongst a whole host of maps of the continent, hundreds of variations on sunsets, Acacia trees and giraffes. Second to that it’s images of war, poverty and hunger. So a group of young Africans on Twitter have been tweeting under the hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou, and it’s growing by the second with pictures of the diversity, individuality, joy, creativity and beauty of the huge continent, its countries, people, food, architecture, fashion, religion, cultures, art, societies, politics and communities.
Diana Salah, who helped to organise the campaign, told Fusion: “I got involved because growing up, I was made to feel ashamed of my homeland, with negative images that paint Africa as a desolate continent. It’s so important to showcase the diversity and beauty of Africa and with the mainstream media not up for the task, social media was the perfect outlet.” Yes the continent has its issues, just as EVERY OTHER CONTINENT ON THE PLANET… and this is the chance for Africans to tell their own stories, rather than having them prescribed by external influences.
I believe that it is important to remember that, despite the joy of such campaigns and the need to educate people around the world, Africa has nothing to prove. In my opinion, all that needs to happen is that the economic/political/cultural barriers need to be removed to allow the continent to flourish in its own way, do it’s own thing and ‘develop’ in its own image. Europe, the USA and increasingly China (and others), have screwed up the world, and continue to do so – they could learn a lot from Africa, the only continent that doesn’t export its violence, self-interest, destruction and greed.
Some of the favourites:
You can see more of the amazing images here.