Poverty, poor leadership, corruption, conflict and disease are the frames that spring to mind when many people think about Africa, but is there more to these outdated stories, are these stereotypical narratives of a continent and its people who lack agency, need fixing and are dependent on wealthy countries the prevailing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?
There is consensus that Africa's narrative is characterised by persistently negative stories and stereotypes that focus more on the challenges and less on the progress.
As a result, how Africans view themselves and how we are viewed by others is informed by outdated views that in many cases don’t reflect current realities.
Although many people speak about the need for narrative change, there is little evidence of a deliberate and coordinated attempt to do this work.
There has been limited analysis about what the prevailing narratives are about Africa – good and bad, what stories feed them, where they come from and how widespread they are.
We established the Africa No Filter Emerging Scholars program to unpack the prevailing narratives about Africa.
Working with academics and researchers based in Africa and the diaspora, the program explores narrative across a range of mediums global media, media, social media, performance art and development.
The Africa No Filter Emerging Scholars program is co-funded by Facebook and supported by The African Union, AUDA-Nepad and the New York-based Africa Centre.
The program is guided by five academic advisors. They are:
Johanna Blakley: managing director at the Norman Lear Center, based at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She recently headed up The Africa Narrative’s inaugural research project, which aims to generate a deeper understanding of the US media’s impact on opinions and attitudes toward Africa, and more broadly, on U.S. engagement with the continent.
Sean Jacobs: associate professor of international affairs at the Julien J. Studley Graduate Programs in International Affairs at The New School. He is the founder and editor of Africa is a Country, a site of criticism, analysis and new writing.
Winston Mano: Reader at the University of Westminster, UK, and member of the Communication Research Institute’s Global Media Research Network. He is also the principal editor of the Journal of African Media Studies and a senior research fellow at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Lynete Lusike Mukhongo: visiting assistant professor of communication and digital media at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is also a senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies at Moi University in Kenya. She is also on the editorial board of the Journal of African Media Studies.
Rebecca Pointer – research consultant for Africa No Filter – leads the program. 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.