Africans, particularly the youth, are increasingly using social media to change global perceptions and stereotypes of Africa. The much trending hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou has been used on Twitter and Facebook to show pictures of a pristine, beautiful and developing Africa.
The hashtag has been used in response to international media’s images and stories of Africa that have portrayed the continent as one that is full of suffering, underdevelopment, corruption in addition to being riled in conflict and disease. Also placing their weight behind the trend of #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou have been African celebrities, public figures and politicians making it one of the most trending hashtags on the continent.
Those who follow the hashtag will come across an array of pictures of African heritage sites, African mega cities, schools, fashion, modern African buildings, upcoming African business start ups, thriving African businesses, African inventions, joyful African people and African success stories.
The hashtag has attracted over 65,000 tweets since it first began and has also been used by tourists to highlight their experiences in Africa. This has promoted not only the positivity and confidence of Africa but also knowledge sharing of various cultures, places and activities in Africa that are rarely shown in the international media.
Negative portrayals of Africa have for long been popularised by international media resulting in people who live outside Africa having severe misconceptions of the continent. These have created a framing of Africa that makes the continent take the form of a country, with problems that are particular to certain countries in Africa being referred to as ‘African’ problems. This is noticed in how plagues, wars, famine, terror groups and conflicts that affect certain countries in the continent such as Ebola, Boko Haram, Xenephobia, Afrophobia and droughts being portrayed as being omnipresent in the entirety of Africa.
The hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou has thus served as the alternative voice of Africa that shows the continent in ways in which Africans and tourists see it. The change in African perceptions driven by this hashtag further has the potential of motivating investment in Africa and contributing to the upward growth of the continent.
Check out a sampling of some of the tweets and photos being shared on social media now: