Two Nigerian sisters, Chioma and Oluchi Ogwuegbu, set out to travel across Africa at the end of 2007 in order to write positive stories about each place they visited and begin to reverse the trend of bad news coming out of the continent. Their story resonated with me when I first heard of it early last year, and I keenly followed their travel blog. Unfortunately, they ran out of money and have had to put their travels on hold while they find people to sponsor them.
The Ogwuegbu sisters’ mission is to celebrate Africa, in direct contrast to the negative news and images that the majority of media houses report about the continent. While the negative events reported about may be a reality, the often overlooked positive things are no less a reality, and are a greater force for good.
I love it when Africans tell their own stories. Africans need to re-brand Africa, not so much in the eyes of the rest of the world, but in our own eyes. If Africa is to do more than survive, if she is to thrive, she must regain her dignity in her own eyes. Africa relinquished her power centuries ago and has not yet fully taken it back. Sometimes she doesn’t even seem to know that her strength lies in reclaiming her beautiful and unique identity. Sometimes she seems to catch fleeting glimpses of the dignity she once possessed, but seems to lack the clarity on how to repossess it.
I long for the day when Africa no longer believes lies about herself, since what we believe controls the choices we make. And the choices we make control our future. I long for the day when Africa fully recognizes her beauty, her strength and her innovativeness, even if others don’t; when she is, once more, dignified in her own eyes.
Today I’d like to celebrate a number of Africans who are already celebrating Africa.
Emeka Okafor runs the blog Timbuktu Chronicles. He blogs daily about Africans’ achievements in “entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, practical remedies and other self sustaining activities” on the continent or in the Diaspora. Whenever I read his blog, I am encouraged by and proud of how enterprising and creative Africans are with the cards they have been dealt.
Loyce Kareri and Dorothy Ghettuba of Spielworks Media have been causing a sensation in Kenya since 2009 with their made-in-Kenya TV shows. Block D was their first and highly entertaining TV series, quickly followed by Higher Learning and then Katiba, an educational series on the new Kenyan Constitution that aired before the referendum on August 4, 2010. Kareri and Ghettuba work primarily with African actors and actresses to tell the continent’s stories through television, film, radio, music and digital platforms.
Shirlene Brown is another purveyor of good news on her blog Kenyan Jewels. She blogs about Kenyans who are doing wonderful things all over the world. I enjoy stopping by to read about them on days when I want to celebrate the good things coming out of Africa.
No one else will re-brand Africa for us or seek to restore her dignity; we must be the ones to do it. Let us keep celebrating ourselves.