Dec 2nd, 2016, 06:46 PM

#Africa Is Not A Country

By Leila Tidjani
Source: Pinterest
Thanks to social media, the African story is finally being told unfiltered by Western media.

Many Westerners show a lack of knowledge about Africa, largely due to media clichés and stereotypes. While some may know that Africa is the second largest continent both in terms of land area and population, the Western media tend to focus on Africa as poor and undeveloped. Images of urban skyscrapers and modern road networks in African countries are usually absent in Western media reports.


Image credit: Linkedin

Africa is rich in history, resources, and wealth with huge potential. Yet the only stories portray the continent as an unattractive place to visit. Also, all 54 countries in Africa are often lumped together as the continent were a single country, thus erasing the immense diversity of history and experience on the continent.

In the past, Africans had no “microphone” to tell their story on the global stage. But now Africans have a platform to tell their  stories: social media. It offers an opportunity to start a new, more equal dialogue between Africans and the rest of the world. 


Image credit: DakarLives

With 1.79 billion active users on Facebook alone, social networks have created an online community where sharing personal information and moments is boundless and uncensored. Pictures, videos, and comments on social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter enable user to share experiences. Traditional word-of-mouth is now a series of likes, hashtags, tweets, retweets, and shares.


Image credit: Instagram

A study in 2012 on the impact of social media on travel and tourism showed that more than half (52 percent) of respondents changed their travel plans after researching their trip on social media. Some 85 percent of travelers used their smartphones while abroad, and 52 percent of Facebook users said their friends’ holiday photos had inspired their vacation choice. This user-generated content is regarded as more authentic in  online communities. Today, so-called "earned" media — buzz on social media — is more trusted than the other conventional forms of advertisements and marketing. This is good news for Africa.




It does not mean that Africa does not have life-or-death issues that need to be tackled. But it shows that other activities that do not involve charity work can be done there. Many have seized the opportunity to create a new narrative for the region.

Thanks to social media, the African story is finally being told unfiltered by Western media. 


Image credit: IC African Student Association facebook group

 


Image credit: The Africa they never show you (l'Autre Afrique)