Africa No Filter launches the Emerging Scholars Fellowship program to explore evidence-based narratives about Africa.

Africa No Filter launches the Emerging Scholars Fellowship program to explore evidence-based narratives about Africa.

Poverty, poor leadership, corruption, conflict and disease are the frames that spring to mind when many people think about Africa. Is there more to these outdated stories, are these stereotypical narratives of a continent and its people who lack agency, need fixing and are dependent on wealthy countries the prevailing ones?

The Africa No Filter Emerging Scholars program is looking for scholars to explore African narratives across a range of storytelling mediums across Africa, with comparative studies looking at Africa in France, UK, China, India, and United Arab Emirates. 

Each scholar will be awarded up to $7000 to conduct their research. They will also have access to training, networking opportunities, mentorship and other resources. The Fellowship is part of Africa No Filter’s broader research agenda aimed at making African narratives evidence based. The research, which is co-funded by Facebook, will be conducted across mainstream media, social media, popular culture, the arts, donor publications, and educational materials.  

The program will unpack the prevailing Western narratives about the continent which depict Africans as lacking agency, dependent on wealthy countries and in need of fixing.  

Priority will be given to scholars in Africa and from the diaspora. To qualify, applicants should be PhD students, Post-doc researchers or junior academics who have been in this role for less than three years. In addition, applicants should be based at a recognised academic institute. 

Scholars should be the fields of media, communication, journalism studies, filmmaking, photography, literature, visual arts, music, and development communication. Other scholars will be considered if they can demonstrate capability in line with the research program. 

The Fellowship program will be guided by five academic advisors. Johanna Blakley is the managing director at the Norman Lear Center; associate professor of international affairs at The New School Sean Jacobs is also the founder of Africa is a Country; Winston Mano, who is  the principal editor of the Journal of African Media Studies and a senior research fellow at the University of Johannesburg, is also a Reader at the University of Westminster, UK, and member of the Communication Research Institute’s Global Media Research Network; and Lynete Lusike Mukhongo, who is the visiting assistant professor of communication and digital media at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies at Moi University in Kenya.

Rebecca Pointer – research consultant for Africa No Filter – leads the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. She will also serve as an academic advisor. She is enrolled for a PhD at Wits School of Governance, and her work background is in research and development communication.

Click here for more information on the application process and the Africa No Filter Emerging Fellows program.

If you have further questions, please contact Rebecca Pointer at

Applications must be submitted by Friday 13 November  2020.  The Fellowship will be granted in December 2020, to be completed by 31 July 2021.

Literature Review on African  Youth And The Impact Of Narrative.

Literature Review on African Youth And The Impact Of Narrative.

The world has been observing, prodding and analysing a new species called ‘the youth in Africa’.  We know where to find them, how long they have been around and that there are far too many of them, but you probably don’t know much more for sure. The world needs a plan to manage the youth in Africa – or distract them because unlike viral trends we think we know why they’re trending.


We are scared of what so many young people – young Africans – unleashed on the world can do. Are they an asset or a liability?

So, we want to share what the 29 documents of literature including research reports, chapters and academic journal articles are saying about the youth in Africa. Although by no means comprehensive, the literature review does provide a snapshot into this ubiquitous group.

We’ve done the reading for you so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Download report here.

New US, UK funders to join African narrative collaborative

New US, UK funders to join African narrative collaborative

14th September 2020, Johannesburg, South Africa

The UK’s Comic Relief and the US-based Conrad N. Hilton Foundation are the latest funders to join Africa No Filter (ANF) – a donor collaborative working to change harmful and stereotypical narratives about and within Africa.  Both organisations join existing partners Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, Mellon Foundation, Luminate and Open Society Foundations to fund an ambitious program – influencing how the world sees Africa and how Africa sees itself.

All seven funders have committed to a minimum of two years to capitalise the organisation which is led by recently appointed Executive Director Moky Makura, who left the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to head up the initiative.  Despite the Covid-19 Pandemic, which has seen many funders divert resources to rapid response initiatives linked to the pandemic, Africa No Filter’s funders remain committed to the program.

“Many Africans speak about the urgent need for narrative change but there is little evidence of a deliberate and coordinated attempt to do this work. This is exactly what Africa No Filter was set up do, so I am pleased to see new funders coming on board to support us,” said Moky Makura. “The Hilton Foundation and Comic Relief, like our existing funders are progressive partners who understand that the success of their work on the continent is underpinned by our ability as Africans to believe in ourselves and not in the stereotypical harmful narratives that bring us down.”

Stories of poverty, poor leadership, corruption, conflict and disease enduring stories told about and within the continent, leading to narratives of an Africa, and a people that are broken, lack agency and are in constant need of help. Although the continent has been highlighted as an emerging destination for investment, with high GDP growth rates, an increase in peaceful elections, stability, falling poverty and the spread of technology, more needs to be done to ensure these stories break through and that Africa is presented in a more nuanced and contextualised way that reflects the continent today. With a clear but ambitious mission, Africa No Filter’s priorities include:

  • Research to unpack narratives, quantify impact and elevate our advocacy because there has been limited analysis about prevailing narratives – good and bad, what stories feed them, where they come from and how widespread they are. 
  • Build, support and connect the ecosystem of organisations working to shift narratives
  • Crowd in new and more contemporary stories by supporting storytellers in the arts, culture and media sectors
  • Disrupt harmful narratives and position ANF as the watchdog for narratives on and about the continent

Both the Hilton Foundation and Comic Relief believe strongly in the power of collaboration; that funders working together can yield better results.  They are also aware that the scale of the challenge and ambition around narrative change work in Africa needs multiple supporters hence their commitment to joining the collaborative.

Shaheen Kassim-Lakha, director of strategic partnerships at the Hilton Foundation, said, “We are excited to be part of this movement supporting contemporary, contextualised and nuanced storytelling about Africa. We believe ANF’s research, grantmaking and advocacy around narrative will lay the groundwork for increased optimism and confidence in Africa’s future. This will only unlock better outcomes for the programs we fund across the continent.”

Dilhani Wijeyesekera, Head of Influence at Comic Relief added; “Storytelling is at the core of the work we do to at Comic Relief, and we are keen to support and learn from Africa No Filter’s approach and insights. We know that existing narratives about Africa can be harmful and we are proud to support an initiative like ANF that is tackling these issues.”



Notes to editors:

About Africa No Filter

Africa No Filter is a donor collaborative that’s working to shift stereotypical and harmful narratives within and about Africa. Through research, grant making and advocacy our objective is to build the field of narrative change makers by supporting storytellers, investing in media platforms and driving disruption campaigns.   ANF’s goal over time is to leave an empowered narrative change ecosystem and an informed community of storytellers who work more deliberately to change harmful narratives within and about Africa. The donor collaborative is funded by Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Luminate, Open Society Foundations, Comic Relief and the Hilton Foundation.

About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help individuals throughout the world living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage. The Foundation invests in 11 program areas, including providing access to safe water, supporting transition age foster youth, ending chronic homelessness, hospitality workforce development, disaster relief and recovery, helping young children affected by HIV and AIDS, and supporting the work of Catholic sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a non-profit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.8 billion in grants, distributing $110 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2019. Foundation assets increased from approximately $2.9 billion to $6.6 billion following the 2019 passing of Barron Hilton who, like his father, pledged virtually his entire estate to the Foundation.

About Comic Relief

Comic Relief raises money to support people living incredibly tough lives in the UK and around the world. Through humour and stories of hope, we’ve shown that people can make a massive difference helping over 98 million people and totalling 1.3 billion pounds We fund hundreds of amazing organisations who are working on the ground to support the most vulnerable people and communities in society including many of those hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis. This includes supporting children to survive and thrive, a safe place to be, mental health and gender justice.

Literature Review of Academic writing on African Narratives

Literature Review of Academic writing on African Narratives

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.

Download report here