The East Has a West Problem

In 2016, we are still introducing the African continent to the world.

We’ve seen this a thousand times before. Someone famous or influential says something dumb about the African continent. Something that enforces old and tired stereotypes or groups the diverse cluster of 54 countries into one entity. Social media goes into a tizzy. The offender either apologizes for offending us or says nothing at all.

Rinse. Repeat. Recycle.

In the past week, we have had two very famous and globally known celebrities say some pretty stupid things about Africa. Let’s start with the most recent offense.

We could play a game of spot the obvious issue with these tweets, but we already know what the problem is. Multi-award winning artist, Kanye West publicly begs Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for money (after announcing he is $53M in “personal” debt) then shades Zuckerberg for having the audacity to using his vast fortune to open schools in Africa instead of throwing West a few millions. Worst of all, he states that Africa is a country, instead of a continent.

We could sit here and argue over the state of West’s sanity, but the true issue remains that the false perceptions of Africa are not exempt on super famous people like Kanye West. Someone who has over 18.9M twitter followers. Someone, who despite his obvious jackassery, has extreme influence over his fan base. His offensive tweet has not been deleted and in the time it’s taken to embed the tweet, it’s amassed over 19K favorites.

Moving on to offense two.

“We’re all Africans really” was Meryl Streep’s response to questions about diversity or the lack thereof in the Berlin Film Festival. Meryl, you may be right because we are all descendants of Lucy the Hominid, but to pigeonhole a diverse continent into a paltry excuse to explain away your white-privilege is astounding.

We really wish we were making this stuff up but we aren’t.

But the question remains: What can be done to change these perceptions?

Does it even matter? Do we really care what western celebrities and media thinks about Africa?

The answer is yes. We do care. It is extremely unfortunate that we are in 2016 and still having to introduce the real Africa to the world. We are a continent of smart, innovative, creative and hard-working people. We are more than famine, war, disease, and disaster. Yes, those are all realities of the continent, but name one other continent on Earth that does not have it’s own issues.

This is the main goal of aKoma. We want to show the world there is more to Africa than what celebrities like Kayne West or Meryl Streep perceive. And we have been doing that. Over the past year we have encountered amazing minds that are really working to change the narrative.

But we need more help.

If you are interested in writing for aKoma and helping us spread this message, go on and create an account. 

Africa is rising and it’s time the rest of the world know it too.

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