Social media platforms are changing the African narrative

Muchazondida Mkono

Social media platforms are providing Africans with an opportunity to counter negative stereotypes by giving them representational agency.
 
More and more Africans use the internet. By the end of 2000 the continent had a total of 4,514,400 users. Seventeen years later it had increased to 453,329,534, giving Africa an internet penetration of 35.2%. Africans are also increasingly active on social media – this stood at 177,005,700 Facebook users across Africa at the end of 2017.
 
Social media presents a powerful platform for creating multiple stories about Africa. Embracing the accessibility of modern technology, African social media bloggers and commentators are using Facebook, YouTube and other platforms to undermine longstanding “Afro-pessimistic” stereotypes – the backward continent characterised by strife and poverty.
 
By giving ordinary people the space to share their “everyday” experiences, African bloggers are capturing positive “human moments”. These moments of joy, play, celebration, love and human interaction, create new narratives of Africa.
 
These new representations could ignite a new Afro-positive turn.
 
Examples of another Africa
 
Different and multi-directional narratives about the continent are emerging in a number of different ways. For example, the Facebook blog “Everyday Africa” showcases
 
Cell phone photography shot across Africa, in an attempt to form a more complete portrayal of life on the continent than the mainstream media allows.
Workers load a pallet with bags of chicken feed. This factory in Harare, Zimbabwe sends out 700 tons of feed every day #everyday Pic: @zimbabwephotographic
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