Africa Is So Much More (2016)

Copy of #TheSafeSpace Column published in the Times of Swaziland on the 27th of July 2016:

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Too often our African continent is represented in a one sided way that misleads the world.  It’s hardly surprising that this ‘miserable, outdated, violent, hungry and corrupt’ image of Africa continues to thrive since the platforms that promote it have mass appeal and it is generally in their best interest to paint us in this light.  As a child of this land, I will be the first to admit that my Africa is far from perfect but it is funny (actually it is mischievous) how the Western media consistently ignores our triumphs and opts to portray the ills that plague my great land.

First of all, our entire history has been reduced to about 50 years and we don’t get to hear about the great kingdoms that commanded vast lands and incredible riches.  We don’t hear about the great kings and queens that ruled over Africa before white men came in with sinister ideologies and deadly gunpowder.  Africa is more than a famine riddled land with a population that is hanging on for dear life. We may have challenges in food security but on the flip side, we have (and we are making) great advances in agriculture, manufacturing and food science.  Africa is more than a rural world where people have no concept on infrastructure, technology and innovation.  I could spend the entire day discussing cities in all corners of the continent that defy the image of what people think they know about Africa; Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos, Addis, Cairo, Algiers and Kigali just to name a few.  Are these cities perfect? Certainly not. Do they offer an image of Africa that is contrary to what the West portrays? Definitely!  Africa is more than the arrogant pitch black rebel leader wearing military fatigues, Ray-Ban Aviators and gripping a 50 caliber machine gun in the back of a 90’s Toyota Hilux.  Our challenges with security and conflict are real but they cannot be used to paint the continent with a single brush.

For those who are not aware, it is very possible to walk in many parts of Africa without catching a stray bullet.  Africa is more than the submissive, uneducated and docile woman.  Over the last few decades, the role of women and their well-deserved rights have been highlighted and addressed.  We still have some progress to make but the world needs to know about the women who lead this continent, in governments, technology, sports, arts, civil society and a host of other sectors.  Africa is more than the troubled and rebellious young person.  Our youth is passionate, innovative, intelligent and savvy.  As the continent grows and the right investments are made in us, we will be an even bigger force to be reckoned with.

Africa has been going through many transitions and it high time that the media narrative on Africa changes.  This current misrepresentation in the media presents us with an opportunity for Africa (citizens, private sector, Regional Economic Communities, African Union) to elevate its own media platforms to play a more effective role in telling our story and tracking the progress towards a brighter future, our Agenda 2063.

Feel free to share your comments with me through Twitter (@chr1sfleming), blog (www.chr1sfleming.wordpress.com) or email (christian-fleming@outlook.com.  Until we meet again, goodbye.

Featured image source: www.technocrazed.com

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