by Rachel Ogbu
On 27 April, BBC Africa will take on a very contemporary question that consciously or unconsciously has been bugging us all: How does the world see Africa?
For decades, news about Africa has majorly reflected hunger, war, corruption and underdevelopment. Africa has been referred to as the Dark Continent, the un-reported world, third world; etc. but is that really the accurate image? some people think so and you can join the debate too.
Before the debate takes place on twitter, BBC Africa has already started asking people the following questions:
The next #bbcafricadebate is on Africa’s image. What image that you’ve taken best reflects Africa today?
Which prominent African (except Mandela) has done most to change Africa’s image in last 10yrs?
On the 27th, BBC Africa Debate will be asking more questions like: Is Africa’s international image justified or prejudiced? What do people mean when they invoke the name “Africa”? Do they refer to a race? A geography? What informs the global image of the continent? To what extent does it reflect reality – is the portrayal the problem or is the product faulty? Why have attempts to clean up the continent’s image been unsuccessful? Can Africa ever influence the way it is portrayed globally?
So far, some shocking answers have been received by the BBC. According to report from BBC Social Media Producer, Miriam Quansah, some people on the streets of New York and Lahore were asked for this programme what came to mind when they thought of Africa.
On the one hand, it was poverty, famine, war and disease; on the other, wildlife. Several referred to Africa as a country.
In the first ten days of April, coverage of the continent in the British press was mostly limited to a military coup and its aftermath in Mali; suicide bombs in Somalia and car bombs in Nigeria; the death of a president and speculation about the ill-health of another, and an escalation of fighting between the two Sudans.
Unfortunately not everyone is aware of content that showcases the culture, lifestyle; music and fashion from Africa. Many headlines were pessimistic. There was little relating to African business and innovation; arts; culture or society.
The Western media and aid “industry” are routinely blamed for this one-sided view of Africa. Attempts to rebrand the continent as a whole are also not new. An annual series of media summits began in 2006 with the aim of showing to the world “the other side of Africa”. The initiative drew support from the likes of Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, and the Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka. But the BBC has reported limited success and this is where you come in, join the debate and share ideas that could go a long way in changing perception about Africa.
There is a growing buzz of businessmen who feel that Africa’s image is changing and that the continent labelled by The Economist in 2000 as the “Hopeless Continent”, is now rising. Last year, the same magazine pointed out that over the past decade, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries were African; and this trend looks set to continue.
Hashtag- #bbcafricadebate #africarising
Twitter handle- @bbcafricahys [email protected]