According to the 2019 Global Peace Index rankings, 33 African countries are more peaceful than the United States.
Media bias against Africa
Africa is often depicted in the media as a conflict-ridden continent. The media loves news that shows depressing stories and just misery towards the continent. This media depiction of Africa by journalists satisfies the schadenfreude urge of their audience. Schadenfreude is the pleasure derived from learning of someone’s misery or misfortunes. Images of starving African children and child soldiers are omnipresent in online media. This portrayal of Africa causes the rest of the world to pity Africans. In the minds of many, Africa is just an aid-dependent continent on the verge of collapsing.
According to research from McGill University, humans are drawn to depressing stories due to a negativity bias. Negativity bias according to researchers is our eagerness to hear and recall depressing news. Indeed this human bias does play a role in the poor depiction of Africa by the media but additional factors could also play a role. More research needs to be done to identify other reasons for the bad media portrayal of Africa.
The negative impacts of poor media depiction
Africa also tends to be viewed as just one “country” of homogeneous people. This is wrong on so many levels. According to research, Africa is the most diverse continent in the world. Due to this wrong perception, when conflict occurs in Somalia or South Sudan this is usually extrapolated to encompass the whole African continent.
The distorted portrayal of Africa by the global media has several negative impacts on the continent and its people. Africa is seen by many as the continent of black people. Often, North Africa tends to be grouped with the Middle East. As a result, black people are perceived as violent especially by people who have minimal contact with them.
For example, someone from a Chinese city might have never encountered a black person but due to poor media image, he/she would perceive black people as violent. This is a major cause of discrimination.
In addition, Africa is also perceived by many as comprising of failed states. With this depiction, a potential investor would shy away from investing in the continent resulting in loss of potential jobs and revenues. Furthermore, it makes the rest of the world view Africans as incapable of running a country successfully and only in need of foreign aid which is far from the truth.
African media and content creators should tell their own stories
If African countries are perceived as safe, it would have numerous benefits. Firstly, investors (both African and foreign) will be more eager to expand their businesses to African countries and create jobs. Africa needs investments that will create jobs and not foreign aid. Hence, it is immensely important to attract investments in the continent.
Furthermore, the tourism industry would also grow because most of the African countries are immensely beautiful. There is a growing middle-class population on the continent but most of them would rather spend their holidays outside the continent due to not knowing the beauty of their own continent.
Against this backdrop, it is imperative that African media tell their own stories which they are severely found wanting in. Content creators should also seize this opportunity to make their African stories known to the rest of the world. Movie industries such as Nollywood should do more and expand their movie genres too. African content creators are therefore urged to go to the next level by using these opportunities to create beautiful content about the continent and its people and market it worldwide.
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