Depiction of Africa

LAGOS, Nigeria — One of the things that has become of utmost importance in terms of the development of Africa (and people of African descent all over the world) is how they are depicted in the mainstream media. Certainly there is a profound disconnect between the Africa we know — an Africa bursting with human talent, ingenuity, wealth and opportunity — and the Africa that is usually depicted in the mainstream media in America and globally.

Where you actually do find a lot of coverage is usually in the sort of “National Geographic”-style programming, where typically European adventurers roam the last “wild frontier” on some trek or safari. It’s all about the wildlife, the trees, the rare and exotic beasts, and so on.

Where you do find depictions of actual Africans, they are usually depicted either as docile servants of those wise and paternalistic European explorers, or else as creatures almost on par with the animals — living in primitive surroundings.

There is almost no mention of the rich history of African culture or the modern realities of Africa in the mainstream media. I think we all agree that for Africa to advance on the global stage we have to exercise greater influence over the messages that the public receives about the continent.

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