New handbook outlines how journalists can write about Africa beyond stereotypes
20 July 2022, Johannesburg: Narrative-change organization Africa No Filter is challenging stereotypical news about Africa with its latest handbook, Why Change the Way We Write About Africa?A storyteller’s guide to reframing Africa.
The handbook hopes to close the gap between mainstream and alternative stories of Africa by equipping journalists and storytellers with the tools to write about the continent beyond poverty, disease, poor leadership, corruption and conflict.
It defines what narrative is and the impact of the stereotypical one about Africa. It also provides the historical context that informs current narratives about Africa - from political events like the Berlin Conference and the Mau Mau uprisings to literature and pop culture moments like Live Aid concerts - and their impact on African stories.
Why Change the Way We Write About Africa handbook is part of Africa No Filter’s work of shifting stereotypical narratives about and within Africa to reflect a dynamic continent. The handbook does this by including a checklist of practical suggestions to start telling African stories with nuance. For example, in addition to hiring Africans to tell the continent’s stories or including more Africans on global storytelling platforms and forums, the handbook also suggests seven steps to overcoming stereotypical framing.
These include using African experts and people with lived experiences of events, consciously avoiding stereotyping in the choice of words and images, providing an accurate and specific context instead of framing Africa as if it’s one country, and respecting the agency of subjects; which can be done by applying ethical storytelling principles. The handbook also has examples of the kind of nuanced storytelling it’s calling for.
Moky Makura, Executive Director at Africa No Filter, said: “This handbook is a call to action for the media and creative storytellers to help them understand how narratives are formed and the opportunities for them to develop alternative stories that are rooted in the continent’s reality.”
About Africa No Filter:
Africa No Filter is a donor collaborative working to shift stereotypical and harmful narratives within and about Africa. Through research, grant-making, community building and advocacy, our objective is to build the field of narrative change-makers by supporting storytellers, investing in media platforms, and driving disruption campaigns. The donor collaborative is funded by Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Luminate, Open Society Foundations, Comic Relief, the Hilton Foundation, the British Council and Hewlett Foundation.