The handbook hopes to close the gap between mainstream and alternative stories of Africa by equipping journalists and storytellers with the tools to write about the continent beyond poverty, disease, poor leadership, corruption and conflict.
It defines what narrative is and the impact of the stereotypical one about Africa. It also provides the historical context that informs current narratives about Africa - from political events like the Berlin Conference and the Mau Mau uprisings to literature and pop culture moments like Live Aid concerts - and their impact on African stories.
Why Change the Way We Write About Africa is part of Africa No Filter’s work of shifting stereotypical narratives about and within Africa to reflect a dynamic continent.
The handbook does this by including a checklist of practical suggestions to start telling African stories with nuance. For example, in addition to hiring Africans to tell the continent’s stories or including more Africans on global storytelling platforms and forums, the handbook also suggests seven steps to overcoming stereotypical framing.
These include using African experts and people with lived experiences of events, consciously avoiding stereotyping in the choice of words and images, providing an accurate and specific context instead of framing Africa as if it’s one country, and respecting the agency of subjects; which can be done by applying ethical storytelling principles. The handbook also has examples of the kind of nuanced storytelling it’s calling for.
Moky Makura, executive director at Africa No Filter, said, “This handbook is a call to action for the media and creative storytellers to help them understand how narratives are formed and the opportunities for them to develop alternative stories that are rooted in the continent’s reality.”
Why Change the Way We Write About Africa is available for download here.