How can we get more Africans telling African stories?

June 24, 2021 1032 views 2 comments 2 minutes reading time
How can we get more Africans telling African stories?

The late BBC presenter Komla Dumor used the saying “until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” This is true of Africa where, according to a Harvard University study, 33% of African stories are told by foreign outlets.

But why should this be a concern? An African story which is told through a foreign lens is oftentimes incomplete, biased, and does not adequately represent the diversity of its nations. In spite of having a surface area larger than China, EU and USA combined, reports of conflict in one country give the impression that the rest of Africa is in perpetual war. Because of this, the day-to-day realities of many Africans are disregarded in stories that are about them.  In a continent where there are 3000 ethnic groups and over 2000 languages spoken could there really be a single ‘African Story’? The reality is that there are numerous stories unique to the geographical and cultural context from which one tells African stories.

Many African cultures are known for their rich history of oral and written storytelling. However, the production and distribution of these stories has been hampered by the lack of investment in the film industry, the inaccessibility of filming equipment, and other factors. While multimillion productions of African stories have been done in Hollywood, many of these are not told by Africans themselves and do not authentically depict African experiences and cultures.

We spoke to people who use their platforms to tell African stories about the challenges and way forward in African storytelling. Award winning writer and director Anthony Nti gives his perspective.

For another perspective, we interviewed Aluwani Ramarumo, the project manager at Africa Matters Initiative.

Finally we spoke to Natasha Kimani, a research and Media Program Lead at Africa No Filter.

How can we get more Africans telling the African story? Do you think Africa is properly represented on different platforms? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image by DW Akademie-Africa via Flickr


When foreigners work and learn inside African newsrooms.

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