1. Is Mass-media doing enough to provide us with a real insight into African life while also reporting on events in Africa as they occur?
I don’t think the mass media has any interest in anything to do with Africa. Apart from the usual fear, panic and famine narratives, nothing else is ever spoken about. It’s a bit odd really.
2. “Stereotypes play an important role in helping us make sense of the world, and are not necessarily lies”….What are some of the most common representations of Africa in the media?
I think stereotypes help us to categorize and judge people. The outcomes of this are usually pretty offensive or one-sided but there always is a bit of truth to it. When it comes to Africa- even though it’s a pretty huge continent with over a billion people living in it- people generally just think poverty. Obviously, there’s poverty in Africa but there’s also lots of wealth, resources, people, and you wouldn’t believe it but most can survive without charitable “clean water” pumps.
Regular access to African people can help you avoid falling for these unintelligent tropes but most people don’t have this and quite frankly, unless you’re of African descent you probably don’t care.
3. Is there a pressing need to alter western portrayal of Africa?
I think if people want to learn more about the world we live in, then yes, there is a pressing need to alter the western portrayal of Africa. For African descendants living in the West there will always be a level of disconnection from Africa, but these feelings are exacerbated by a lack of genuine information and representation in the country where you live. Sometimes I think we forget how important knowing your history and where you come from is to one’s personal development and while it’s not critical it certainly helps to see yourself or your heritage reflected accurately in the media. I don’t think Western media is offensive, slightly segregated and generally uninformative on purpose, I just don’t think it’s currently capable of reflecting any narrative outside of the predominantly white one effectively.
As it is, because the western portrayal of Africa is either rude or non-existent it’s effectively telling African descendants that in this world, you don’t really matter. Also consider the way this speaks to other cultures. Even looking in other parts of the world like Asia- there are so many prevalent negative sterotypes of Africa that have come directly from the West. Considering that the West has such a large global influence, it’s representation of all people needs to be broader and honest if for no reason other than to be fair.