Poverty, violence, famines and war. Just a few words often mentioned in one breath with Africa.
By: DAAF BORREN
‘The dark continent’ is the first (and often the only) synonym that people mention when talking about sub-Saharan Africa. To what extent is this justifiable? Why is it that we only speak and hear about the dark side of the African moon?
Obviously non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have a part in our perception of the continent as people rather donate their well-earned money to organizations that show human suffering instead of smiling faces and prosperous communities. Additionally, one can imagine that the role of the media cannot completely be neglected on this matter. Most African news is bad news after all. However, often there is just not enough time for journalists to cover stories comprehensively and at first hand. This brings us to the actual problem of covering the news from sub-Saharan Africa: The genuine lack of general knowledge among the western population, about African nations and cultures.
“When the news covers a terrorist attack in Paris, people get scared, might cancel their holiday trip to France, but will not solely link France with terrorism from that moment onwards. On the other hand, when Boko Haram – A Nigerian terrorist organization allied to Islamic State – carries out a terrorist attack and the media covers the aftermath, Nigeria will then be known only for the presence of terrorism.” – Dutch correspondent and documentary filmmaker, Bram Vermeulen
This is where things go wrong and where our perspective on African countries becomes superficial and deficient. Most western people unfortunately don’t know more about Africa besides from what they hear and read in the news. As a result, Africa is often described as a small and uniform country, wherein famines and violence are a daily routine. This compromises the diversity of the continent, which holds thousands of different cultures and ethnic groups. To be clear, for Europeans it would be unimaginable and undesirable, when generalizations would be made about Europe, based on (for instance) Portugal.
Therefore, the purpose of this platform is to broaden our view and deepen our knowledge about sub-Saharan Africa, its diverse people, many cultures and promising future. The website will provide you with in-depth content and new insights which aren’t available in the daily newspapers. However, please note that The Bright Continent is not a ‘good-news-show’ sugarcoating stories with a positive bias. The often harsh and complex reality in numerous African countries is a sure thing and such stories are not forgotten or denied. Though, when we discuss humanitarian disasters such as famines and epidemics, or the refusal of an ‘African Big Man’ (authoritarian leader) to resign from office, we will provide more comprehensive and all-embracing content, explaining the backgrounds to news.
“Although it is easy to be impressed by the fact that all the arrows seem to be pointing in the right direction, it is important not to jump rashly from one-eyed Afro-pessimism to an equally one-eyed Afro-optimism.” – Swedish correspondent Erika Bjerström
Lastly, through our content we hope to improve the African-Western relations and indirectly contribute to an improved and more positive self-image of Africans and more appreciation for the African identity. Why? Richard Dowden, a British journalist and Africa-expert, described in his book Africa, altered states, ordinary miracles, that “not politics and the economy of African countries where the greatest victims of colonial times, but psychology, which led to the destruction of African confidence.”
Therefore, let this be a platform where different cultures come together, knowledge is shared and where diversity is celebrated. If you feel like joining our mission, feel free to get in touch. Because new insights and differing opinions which contribute to our perspective on sub-Saharan Africa, are most welcome.