“UNTIL THE LION LEARNS HOW TO WRITE, EVERY STORY WILL GLORIFY THE HUNTER”

Komla Dumor has worked for BBC news UK covering stories about Africa in Africa Business Report, he’s traveled the continent and come to the realization that it is no longer the same and so it’s story cannot be told in the same way. He witnessed the Africa which unlike popular beliefs has things going on, African professionals  are building great lives and opportunities on the continent. His (hilarious) speech on TED emphasizes  the importance of challenging the conventional wisdom about Africa in the media on three points. Check them out:

THERE MUST BE BALANCE: there are two Africas. Mr Dumor illustrates this by showing pictures of rural third world Africa and then images of businesses driven first world class buildings, spots, bars, a more easy going, luxurious Africa with people that are well off and have made a comfortable living for themselves in  Africa!
 Unfortunately, the media image that dominates is that of the first Africa, a poverty stricken continent of devastation. However these images do not even represent the whole story, because when you look closely these seemingly poverty stricken individuals bear the brightest smiles and work the hardest. Their poverty does not make them pitiful but instead fuels their ambition to do better, be it to send their kids to the local school or set up a tomatoes selling business. They work hard to make their communities and the lives of loved ones better. Now where is that in the media? 

WHEN IN DOUBT ABOUT AFRICA, ASK AN AFRICAN EXPERT: the media does not necessarily go to the right people for information about Africa because they do not see Africans as experts. They will go to experts on African Studies in American Universities for example but where they can get the best stories (a more wholesome experienced story) are from the locals that are experts because they are in the situations. If you want to know about fish trading and trends in Cape Coast Ghana, go to a fisherman there or the fishermen director. He may not be sitting behind a desk but he is definitely an expert in his own field!

HIRE THE BEST PERSON TO TELL THE STORY: As BBC has started to focus on doing stories on Africa with Africans such as Komla himself, it has established credibility for the African story. Having Africans tell their own story be it African journalists or people on the continent will allow for the media to redirect the image it has been feeding the public about Africa and show that there is a whole untold story there. As Mr.Dumor put it beautifully: “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter”. 

Basically, it is not what the international media writes about Africa but what Africa writes for itself.

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