Africans launch Twitter hashtag to show their continent in a different light
When she was little, 22-year-old American student Diana Salah was ashamed of the land of her birth, Somalia. In an interview with Fusion magazine, she points to the role of the international media, which too often depicts Africa “as a desolate continent”.
In late June, Diana helped launch the Twitter hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou, which has since cropped up in tens of thousands of 140-character messages posted by people determined to tell a different story about their continent.
— Ed G Jackson (@EdGJackson) 3 Juillet 2015
No more images of famine and war. Instead, photographs of Dakar’s Grand Théâtre, university campuses, Kenya’s cities, archaeological remains and ultra-modern stadia. When one tweet issues a reminder of Africa’s flourishing fashion industry, another states plainly: “Africa has 3 female heads of state”. Through these portraits and landscapes, there emerges another Africa, one that the people who live there and shape the continent day by day want us to see.
— blige romanova (@THECAROLDANVERS) 24 Juin 2015
There is nothing revolutionary about the idea. But this simple initiative, which makes use of the tools of today to counter clichés and information asymmetry, has highlighted the media’s inability, even today, to shake off stereotypes (positive or negative) about Africa and the more than 50 countries that it comprises. It sets the record straight, without pretending that everything is rosy. Of course there are problems in Africa. But there is so much more to the continent than Boko Haram, safaris, famine and desert. Here’s hoping that one day, there will be no need to remind people of that.