Africans in the diaspora are always complaining about the image of the continent presented in the media. The African economist, Dambisa Moyo (we love her!) calls them, the “four horsemen of the apocalypse: war, disease, corruption and poverty”. The images are relentless, and assault the senses wave, after wave, after wave. It’s not that the images are untrue, are gross exaggerations or present an unfair picture, after all everyone knows that Aid organisations are out there when there has been no other help available, but it’s the absence of the other side of the argument, modern Africa, aspirational Africa, dynamic Africa, educated Africans, articulate Africans.
Searching through the numerous photographic libraries for pictures of modern Africa is a fruitless task as well. We’ve been through hundreds! Most pictures of Africa and Africans are the stereotypic ones, big beasts, sweeping landscapes, cute mud huts, naive villagers, colourful African attire and the four horsemen of the apocalypse. All very well, but reflecting a particular perspective.
When we do find pictures of modern Africa, most are South African, and they are brilliant! The South Africans have done a fantastic job getting positive pictures of their country in all the right places. Not that they sanitise things either, because they don’t. You can find just as many pictures of the problems the country faces. But there is a balance.
No one in the West, or anywhere else for that matter, is going to write Africa’s story, the way Africans want it written, so it’s time people started taking high quality pictures of the side not seen on television and uploading them to sharing sites like Flickr, arguably the largest photographic library in the world. We would love to use top tier pictures of modern Africa on this site. Make them copyright free or issue them under a creative commons license to ensure they get the widest distribution. Better still, it looks like there is an opportunity for an entrepreneur out there to create a library of modern African pictures. A great start was this wonderful site, we found on Facebook, Africland, full of vibrant pictures of Africa and Africans reflecting the diversity of the continent’s places and people. Some of the comments people leave are rude and ignorant, but if you can get past that, you will really enjoy the richness of this site. It’s a start. So if anyone knows where we can get great pictures, please let us know.