One of the conversations dominating social media and other media platforms, especially at This Is Africa, has been about the bias in reporting of events on the African continent. But while many Africans are offended by the way in which their continent is portrayed in the international media, not many are doing anything about it.
For more than five years, This Is Africa has been reporting both the headline-grabbing and the hidden stories of the continent, stirring conversations and changing narratives, questioning old narratives and pushing for new ones. What makes This Is Africa unusual is that its stories are told by Africans in Africa.
For many African institutions, including the African Union, funding comes from the West. That is a plague the continent is fighting. Cultural activities on the continent find funding from the West. This continuous dependence on the West for basic things that should be done by governments or African companies raises many unanswered questions, including “Is there anything Africans fully own as their own?” It also poses a challenge regarding African media, raising this important question: Are Africans ready to own their media houses and fund them?
While there has been a lot of online talk, from bashing the idea to expressing support, it would be interesting to see if such words can be matched with financial action. It would also be most interesting to see if, beyond financial support, Africans will stick to growing their own media houses.
Because This Is Africa is an organisation that is not affiliated to any government, it is able to criticise African governments that do not live up to the expectations of the people. One of the pillars of democracy is a free press. For a continent used to growing institutions around singular leaders, it is important to see what an institution grown around the people of the continent would look like.
Such an institution would report on the year-long Internet ban in Chad, the ghost towns of Southern Cameroon, the continuous protests by Sudanese against President Al-Bashir’s three-decade-long regime, the incessant protests in Algeria to remove President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power, and the new voice of opposition in Uganda, Bobi Wine, challenging the seemingly endless rule of President Yoweri Museveni – as This is Africa has done. Surely this shows that the African continent is ripe and ready for a media house of its own to tell the many stories of the winds of change swirling around the continent.