Young Africans have taken to Twitter to challenge mainstream media’s oversimplified stereotypes of the continent. Using the hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou, Africans have been posting pictures that showcase the food, fashion, culture, tradition, architecture, and landscape of Africa’s more than 50 countries.
These images show a side of Africa that the media rarely highlights. Often, news coverage of Africa focuses on negative images such as poverty, starvation, illness, social and political unrest, and violent conflict. This narrative defines Africa by its struggles rather than acknowledging Africa’s traditions and innovations.
Diana Salah, a 22 year old Somali-American student living in Seattle and one of the participants in the campaign, told Fusion, “I got involved because growing up I was made to feel ashamed of my homeland, with negative images that paint Africa as a desolate continent. I used to get questions ranging from ‘were you born in a hut’ to hurtful comments about disease and poverty.”
Due to her experience Salah feels that it is necessary to show positive images of Africa, “It’s so important to showcase the diversity & beauty of Africa and with mainstream media not up for the task, social media was the perfect outlet. #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou will continue to promote a positive image and also change misconceptions along the way”
TakePart, an online news and lifestyle magazine which encourages social action, points out that the struggles that Africa faces are very real, but at the same time, Africa has shown great advancements such as economic growth and innovative technology that is helping to improve the lives of many people.