And So It Begins!

The African Lens project is an inspired project designed to tell the story of Africa.  It is based on the premise that Africa is a complex, multi-faceted environment with rich and varying cultures which too often get very short coverage in journalistic work out of there. We want to present, if possible, a balanced view of Africa. Of course, we won't shy or run away from stories of the human condition that needs to be told to bring attention to issues which otherwise won't get any coverage.

What is the perception about Africa today in the world?  It is very easy to visualize Africa the way it is portrayed - a backward continent with stories of human tragedy which requires the help and sympathy of international donors. A sprawling geographic area with incompetent and corrupt leaders, famine ravished citizens and extreme poverty.   Certainly, these stories are not made up.  They are true. And they are forcibly thrust into the media limelight in developed countries with pictures of starving kids, genocidal  marauding gangs of soldiers, dirty looking villagers living in extreme poverty and news of constantly unending wars. There are so many aid agencies , relief groups and NGOs operating in Africa than I care to count.  Clearly, this is one continent in crisis.  It has always been in crisis.

I found myself conflicted after thinking about this project.  Should I attempt to correct the perception that all Africa is like this?  Does showing an alternate view of life in Africa deal with the perception problem?  Is such an effort an attempt to deny what is?  Is there any merit in calling attention to these horrific conditions, as told by others, and in effect tell the same stories I am looking to recast ?

What is the story that needs to be told about Africa?  Asking this question in itself is a testament to the problems of the continent. But there is a story to be told. It is an ever unfolding epic of the ability of a people to rise above all kinds of hardships to survive. It is a story about the resiliency and resourcefulness of its people. It is a story about the the richness of their culture and ways of life. It is a story about how the new generation of well educated Africans are using their entrepreneurial skills to transform their societies.  It is the story about all the positive aspects of Africa lost in the current portrayal of the place.

What about the other story? The stories of genocide, wars , poverty etc ? In my opinion, telling them plays an important role in creating awareness to the problem.  I intend to use African Lens as a platform of advocacy to tell such stories. However, that's not all you are going to get here.  It is my hope that  African Lens will portray the complete picture about the people of Africa - their hardships, challenges and triumphs.  It is my hope that western news media will move away from the singular and shock inspiring news of Africa they have been peddling, to a more balanced rendition of the story of its people. Hopefully, it can help in a small way to correct the perception of a hopeless continent to one with a people who have no less an aspiration to live richer lives than any other people in developed countries.

Published On:

Friday, May 28, 2010


Victor Acquah

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