When Africa is mentioned, what comes to your mind? Is it a dark continent where wild animals roam about, or is it of a people who are deeply entrenched in backward traditions such as Female Genital Mutilation or polygamous families? There are different perceptions as to what Africa is as perceived by people from the other continents.
Two years ago, I listened in on a BBC programme where young African students recounted their experiences in Asia where fellow students kept on bugging them with questions about the life in Africa. While the questions exhibited the ignorance of the young Asian students, this programme left me disturbed. Why would anyone think that in Africa, people slept on trees? Who is to blame for this widespread misconception?
I have always believed that if we as Africans do not tell our stories, someone else will and when they do we will be left lamenting about the stories told about Africa. With technology getting better day by day, the young people on the continent have a chance to tell the world about Africa. And this is something that I am truly passionate about.
Having worked on a mobile cinema outreach programme that aimed to promote African films in Africa, I have realized just how the African story is yet to be told. When I was young I always dreamt of being a journalist. I never had a single idea about what it was but by and by as I went on to high school, I worked towards this passion where I was a member of the journalism club. As young aspiring journalists we were always reporting to fellow students about how our school was performing in the art and sports competition. I have gone on to work as a cultural journalist reporting about culture, arts and film.
I have realized how our society has not entrenched the art of telling the world about the beauty of our country. Instead the mainstream media has continually gone on each day recounting the endless wrangles within the political arena. As a journalist I just don’t want to be another reporter who tells the society about the political, governmental or the obvious news that my people are accustomed to. I want to tell news that positively impacts the society in which I live in. It is in this breath that I dream of an informed society where the young people tap into the advantages provided by new technological advancements to tell the world about their culture.
I look forward to the entrenchment of citizen journalism among youth so that together we can change Africa’s image. This is why I believe the VOF training is an opportune moment for me as an individual and for the society in which I live to make that decisive decision; decisions that will enable us stand up and tell our stories to the world.
As a VOF correspondent my aim is to tell stories that allow others become aware of what goes on in Africa. We are a people with strong cultural practices, some that are seen as harmful yet we have not had the courage to let the world over understand who we really are. It is our time to speak up and get our voices to be heard. This is why I want to empower youth through citizen journalism. By equipping them with skill such as filming and film editing they will be able to create programmes that will go a long way in educating the world over. This I believe will not only give them a chance to tell the African story but also create employment opportunities for very many young people. I am convinced that If Africa does not stand up to tell her story, no one will.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Vision.