Where are Africa’s media that speak for the African people and tell the African story? This question has been posed repeatedly. The British have the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Germans have Deutsche Welle (DW), Americans have Cable News Network (CNN) and the Chinese have China Global Television Network (CGTN). Where is the African equivalent?
For the past six years, This Is Africa (TIA) has been curating stories from around the continent, “interrogating Africa’s position in a globalised world”. There has, however, been a demand from our readers for us to do more. Many a conversation on the topic of Africa owning its own media has been shared with TIA.
TIA’s story began in 2007, when Ghetto Radio Trust launched Ghetto Radio, a community FM radio station. Ghetto Radio aimed to give young people living in informal settlements a portal through which to share their own stories. Along the way, Ghetto Radio Trust noticed the many misconceptions about the continent and its people. To deconstruct this narrative and challenge historical inaccuracies and revisionism, TIA was born.
Why is our continent still dependent on any aid at all (besides humanitarian aid)? Why do companies like Nike still get to show their “support” for Africa by creating RED laces, the proceeds of which go towards helping to “fight AIDS in Africa”? What idea of Africa does this continue to represent in everyone’s mind?
TIA’s objective in its first two years was to increase readership and gain an audience for its website and social media platforms. Currently, TIA’s website figures hover around 200 000 users monthly, with a Twitter following of 43 000 and a Facebook following of 875 000.
TIA has been able to develop strong, credible voices on the continent, ranging from music critics and lifestyle writers to politics and history. These writers come from different parts of Africa and they write for Africans with the aim of reclaiming the African narrative.
Articles such as “Europeans did not bring shoes to Africa” by Cosmic Yoruba sought to debunk the many myths regarding the lives of Africans before the coming of the European. Atane Ofiaja’s “The Long Reach of Africa’s Music in the US” explored the particular influence of African music on jazz, hip-hop and R&B in the United States and worldwide. This is how we are telling the stories that many Western media houses would not bother exploring.
TIA’s expansion in 2016 led to the launch of the Francophone website. The French website featured a cross-pollination of ideas, with articles on the English website being translated to French and vice versa. The goal was the same: to reach the whole of Africa and tell her story.
The #OurContinentOurStories campaign is a call for the continuation of Africans telling their stories and support for TIA as a media platform. TIA has proven itself to be competent and reliable for more than half a decade. We look forward to our readers and well-wishers sharing and posting about how we can claim #OurContinentOurStories.