Last week I googled “Ivory Coast Beaches” to show a friend what the ocean looked like on our side of the coast. The top search results: horrifying images of casualties after the terrorist attack of March 2016. This reminded me once more of the unfair marketing of African countries carried out to the world and fostering fallacious perceptions. I say unfair because although those images are not necessarily all wrong, they really only represent a small fraction of the story, in a world where they are marketed as the whole story. We can’t say enough that African countries are so much more than the images of war, poverty, hunger and scarcity. I am not even trying here to argue against what many baptized “media propaganda”; indeed, let Western media show what it wants. But I strongly believe that it is our responsibilities as African and friends of Africa to show the full story, the beauty and pride in our everyday lives across African cities.
I see more and more young Africans abroad or onsite strongly determined to invest their money, experiences and ideas to improve their countries. All beautiful initiatives but reinventing the continent is going to take decades, a work in process most likely passed down through many generations. What we can do today, is to invest in the rebranding of our countries and strive to show what makes us so proud of where we come from, make those images rise on top of the google searches.
My goal is not to change people’s perception for the world is entitled to its beliefs. My goal is to showcase the truth through the beauty I find not only in images but also stories of real people and places. Furthermore, Africans also have the responsibility to stop feeding into stereotypical fallacies. I have witness too many fellows claiming the most ridiculous stories to come off interesting in the eyes of ignorants, thirsty for unusual stories to confirm their assumptions. Please stop selling those negative and outrageous stories pulling the whole continent down when we are trying to move forward and get better. It is so frustrating that many of those merchants of fallacies have zero knowledge of the history of the continent. Also, being from one country in Africa doesn’t give you the right to claim the stories of all other countries on the continent; it is cultural appropriation. Again, there is more to the story than the one newspaper article, than the one picture. Let’s show that “more”.