“Great, yet another blog about Africa” is not the response you want when you’re pitching the project to a group of Zimbabweans over lunch. But I understood Zaheera’s cynicism, and yes, this is another blog about Africa.
Except that it’s told by Africans, and its aim is to give the rest of the world a glimpse of real life on different parts of the continent. It’s a space to share the stories that we don’t hear often enough; the ones that get buried under the doom-and-gloom reporting that continues to shape the continent’s image.
The Dark Continent narrative has been knocked to shame but, like Fifty Shades of Grey, it persists. A soldier carrying an AK-47; naked children with protruding ribs; women balancing groceries on their heads; villagers queuing for medication – these recycled images scream “This is Africa!” when they’re really a trite, tired representation. The continent has its challenges but we are not our wars, poverty and diseases.
“An emerging market”, “exotic” women, technology booms, safaris, and National Geographic-worthy sunsets don’t sum us up either. They reduce us.
The point of this blog isn’t to romanticise Africa but to normalise it; to rubbish the idea that we exist between two extremes – despair and development; and to invite Africans to write about their world instead of being written about.
It’s time we tell our own stories. As you’ll see, it makes for refreshing reading.