Africa is often misrepresented in the media as a poverty-stricken safari-land. Who benefits from such stereotypes? How can we reshape the image?


Outsiders and Africans themselves often resort to stereotypes to represent the continent — wild animals, jungles and poverty.

Who better than Africans to set the record straight?

In the latest episode of News Decoder’s podcast, “The Kids Are Alright,” African Leadership Academy (ALA) students Clarice Achola and Alexander Osodo Omondi discuss how images of Africa can misrepresent the complex continent and what can be done about it.

“Africans need to take the initiative to understand each other’s diversity and rid ourselves of learned colonial biases,” says Omondi, noting that Africans can write about their own continent to counter stereotypes commonly promoted by Western media.

Achola discusses an expression — “If it bleeds, it leads” — that captures why some media leverage hype to bolster their bottom line.

Some media promote stereotypes of Africa.

The ALA student, a social activist promoting women’s rights, cites a collection of satirical essays by the late Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina, How to Write about Africa, that examines why Western media is so unwilling to tell the whole truth about Africa.

In this, the second episode of this season’s “The Kids Are Alright,” Towela Tembo, a Zambian-born Botswanan photographer, urges Africans to think critically about each other.

“Deconstructing the opinions we have about each other is the first step in leading the way for others to unlearn the untrue African perceptions of being ‘less than’ and to encourage critical thinking about the African experience,” Tembo says.

ALA is one of 20 News Decoder partner schools in 14 countries. For more work by ALA students on News Decoder, click here.

“The Kids Are Alright” is produced with News Decoder partner Podium.me. Mollie Davidson edited this episode.

 

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Tendayi Chirawu is News Decoder’s Communications and School Engagement Manager. A citizen of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, she has a masters degree in Global Communication & Civil Society from the American University of Paris. She joined News Decoder in July and has experience working for non-profit and for-profit organizations in Africa, Asia and Europe. Chirawu is a published author and has written for international news publications.

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World Africa Listen: How to reshape stereotypes of Africa in the media?