Friday, April 15, 2016

The Problems With #Africa

This week we read a really interesting article about the best African Instagram accounts to follow. As we read more and more, we decided to search into the hashtag #Africa and we weren't surprised by the images that we found. 

Despite our efforts we couldn't avoid pictures of Lions, Leopards, Tigers, Zebras… YAWN.
We love animals but there’s more to Africa than taking a picture of a sunbathing lion or even worse a deeply sedated tiger selfie. The next most frequent photo was the classic sunset, the photo’s could almost be a screenshot from Disney’s The Lion King. African sunsets are lovely and can make a beautiful photo, but the images we capture of Africa have a deep impact of how we view an entire continent. 

So why are they more damaging than they seem? These images create a negative cultural stereotype, this is because this kind of representation creates a an assumption of what is normal within a culture. The images of war, starvation, hunger, wild animals and disease dominate the national image of Africa within western imagery. An article ‘Media Representation of Africa: Still The Same Old Story’ by Micheal Mahadeo explained:

"We hear about famines and coups, but not the rejuvenation of its cities and the cultural vitality of its village life...about oppression and massacres, but not education, economic self-help and political development... about poaching and habitat destruction, but not ongoing active efforts at conservation, reforestation and environmental awareness.’
Of course, war and poverty remain issues for a continent of over 1 billion people but that doesn’t mean that Africa isn’t home to so many other images that could be shared."

Within social media and the internet there a pockets of African artists, museums and bloggers who are using new hashtags such as #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou to share powerful and positive images of the continent. 

Here’s some alternative accounts to follow on Instagram that are posting images that challenge and make you rethink your ideas about Africa: 

A visual subversion of the African image with beautiful and empowering imagery.

A West African volunteer organisation documenting a more positive image of poverty 

The mission of panAFRICAproject is to create a visual portrait of modern Africa.

If you know of any more Instagram accounts we should be following, please comment below!
Holly Macdonald Web Developer

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