Many of us on the continent grew up listening to the BBC or watching CNN. Both stations were and still are among the main sources of information for Africans. The Internet might have diffused that influence a bit, but the question is this: Are there any other options for Africans besides government stations, which are mostly pro-government?
Recently, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza revoked the BBC’s licence and extended the suspension of the Voice of America. Both media stations were accused of portraying Burundi in a bad light. In addition, the BBC and CNN (among other Western media houses) have also been accused by Africans for their sweeping, biased headlines and for portraying the continent in a bad light. This is understandable, given that most of the editors at such media house are not African.
Unfortunately, many African media houses seem to play the same ball as their Western counterparts. While the revocation of the licence of the BBC and the extended suspension of the Voice of America should be condemned, the move does raise the question of how African media practitioners could fill that gap.
Covering 54 countries on one continent is a mammoth task, but it is hugely important to cover each story properly. The task for a digital media platform such as This Is Africa is therefore great and can only be supported if fellow Africans contribute to it. There is no lack of talent or manpower on the continent; what, then, is lacking? Willpower? Finance? Would Africans contribute to a crowdfund to get their own media up and running?
The answers to these questions lie in the urgency with which we view the creation of our own media. But also, for a continent that hardly consumes most of what it produces, will it consume its own stories? This Is Africa could be such a platform that, with an extra push from fellow Africans, could bring about that turnaround. But are Africans ready for this alternative?