My Africa Is - Looking for an African ‘choc des consciences’

The problem

The African experience, and what it means to be African, has long been over-simplified. Images of war, starvation, and emaciated children fill the mainstream media, and have reduced the vastly diverse and vibrant people on the continent to faceless victims. The whole African truth, however, includes a growing number of stable democracies, an emerging middle class, and a vibrant youthful population with an entrepreneurial spirit. 

While recent investment and aid interest in Africa has spiked in the last year, as evidenced by the sensational #Kony2012 campaign and the continent’s emergence as a rising investment hot-spot, widespread ignorance or sweeping generalizations nonetheless persist. At the same time, existing media actors have failed to step in to fill this gap and alter perceptions by providing a more complete picture of the African continent, in contrast to persistent single-story coverage focused on political instability, poverty and problems.

The idea

My Africa Is is an eight-part documentary series that will offer a balanced view of Africa, as well as a more in-depth narrative identifying and exploring innovative youth on the continent. The series – to be launched in early 2013 – will cover unconventional developments in the humanitarian, music, fashion, film, arts, and business sectors of African countries. 

The producers will visit 13 cities across the sub-Saharan region, including Dakar, Yoff, Monrovia, Freetown, Bubusua, Accra, Lagos, Luanda, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Dar Es Salaam, and Johannesburg. Stories will include the growth of a youth-based civil society in Nigeria and a TV show changing the HIV conversation in Kenya. The show will be available online and geared towards a global audience of 15-35 year olds who are social media-savvy.

Producers will target this demographic by combining education and entertainment, delivered at a lively and exciting pace.

The executive producer and host of My Africa Is is Nosarieme Garrick, a writer, activist and entrepreneur who has existing experience in both youth empowerment and media production. She is joined by a diverse international crew bringing skills in photojournalism, documentary filmmaking, event curation, strategic messaging and commercial editing.

Potential Impact

My Africa Is aims to shake the way the world views the African continent. By highlighting the efforts of successful African entrepreneurs, the series will depict an Africa that is rising and growing despite its challenges. This will in turn inspire young people around the world to think differently about development, and to see African solutions to local problems. The producers not only hope to change the way the world perceives Africa, but in the long term encourage investment, job creation, trade and tourism, ultimately allowing for the continent’s potential to be unleashed. 

Recent developments like the ‘Arab Spring’ have shown youth are a catalyst for change. Members of the same peer group can wield significant influence, and My Africa Is will seek to empower young leaders by sharing their stories with a larger audience. With 40 percent of Africa’s population younger than 15, the potential viewship - and developmental impact - is huge.

Social value

My Africa Is creates interactive engagement through live events, and the use of social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, allowing its audience to be a part of the journey from production into post-production. Another by-product of the series is to bring a sense of pride to young Africans and push them to meet their potential by demanding more from their governments. The stories will cover various industries, including civil society in certain countries that are demanding and creating greater democratic transparency.

With the series to be made available online, the producers of My Africa Is will be able to gauge the demographics of the programs’ reach. The web-based format will also allow the filmmakers to interact with their audience, creating a dialogue that will be indicative of how the show is resonating with viewers.

This is a key element of the project, as the producers of My Africa Is believe that by showing the resilience of the subjects of each episode, in addition to how they are innovating, the series will be able to influence its viewers to start thinking differently about change and development - both within the region, and globally.


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