What is the one thing that comes to mind when you hear Africa? Poverty, Sickness, Famine, A third world continent right? These things and more are the perceptions most people from the west and other parts of the world have about Africans. Why is this the case? Well, that is what they are made to believe. 90% of the stories being told about Africa are skewed towards negativity. If they are not talking about a war somewhere in Nigeria, then it is about hunger and famine in Somalia. Or it will be (more negative things that are said about Africa). The news hardly ever talks about good things being done here on the Continent. I cannot say I blame them entirely though because after all, bad news sell better than good news. Moreover those foreign media houses have nothing really to loose if they tell our bad stories only instead of the good ones. They also tend to exaggerate issues and make them look worse off than they already are. Whatever the reason is, we cannot tell. It probably is one of their ways to get these negative stories to sell even better.
If there is anyone that is to blame for the terrible images that are being portrayed about us, we should blame ourselves because we sit back and do nothing. We are not able to tell our stories the way we want them to be told and the way they ought to be told. Not to say that we should tell lies or sugar coat the truth, but then we should be able to say for ourselves what really is, and should be able to sell our stories to the rest of the world. Not just the negative or just the positive, but a balance of both, to show the true Africa!
Lets take a look at Aljazeera for example, they are arguably the most credible international media house in the Middle East, run by people of the Middle East but that is the problem. Aljazeera is the only one we know. The only thing Africa has to boast of is a Focus on Africa program on BBC Africa. Even that it was just recently that it Africans began running it. All the rest are probably just local news agencies that tell local news to local people. How about if we had our own versions of BBC, CCN and/or SKY? If we took journalism and the entire media much more serious than we are doing now, if we were able to tell the true African stories and not leave other people to do it for us, I am pretty sure if the same question is asked again, What is the one thing that comes to mind when you hear Africa? Very different answers will be gotten. They would have a better understanding of what the continent really is like, and not just have the perception of Africa being a hopeless continent filled with so much negativity.
By: Wendy Amartey & Frederick Apronti