Literature Review of Academic writing on African Narratives

Education 4 August 2020,  Moky Makura

In 2018 the fictional country Wakanda from the film Black Panther was the fourth most mentioned African country on Twitter, after Egypt, South Africa and Kenya. The fact that Africa’s 4th most talked about country doesn’t exist tells us two things: pop culture is a powerful tool for narrative work and we need to do more to make Africa’s 51 remaining real countries more compelling.

This data point was unearthed during a literature review to understand what insights already exist about narrative in Africa in the media. The review was part of our mission to unpack narrative and give some real substance to that well used phrase; “we need to change the African narrative!’.

We analysed 56 documents of literature (post 2000) including research reports, books, chapters, and academic journal articles.

Although by no means comprehensive, the literature review does provide a snapshot into the narrative space. We intend to follow this up with more research to build a comprehensive understanding of narrative and where we can intervene to shift and support narratives about and within Africa.

So, what did we find? A few surprising facts like the one about Wakanda, but admittedly nothing we didn’t already suspect.