through a different lens

Young Africans fed up with media stereotypes are tweeting powerful images of their real lives

Twitter user @THECAROLDANVERS

Africans are posting pictures of everything from ancient mosques to new stadiums and modern art under the hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou, in an effort to get more diverse images of Africa out into the world.

The hashtag has attracted more than 42,000 tweets and re-tweets in the past week.

For some young Africans, whether they grew up in Africa or not, the Twitter campaign is an effort to combat oversimplified stereotypes of disease and poverty that they have encountered throughout their lives.

“I got involved because growing up I was made to feel ashamed of my homeland, with negative images that paint Africa as a desolate continent,” said 22-year-old Diana Salah (@lunarnomad), a first generation Somali-American student who has been driving the hashtag’s spread recently. “I used to get questions ranging from ‘were you born in a hut’ to hurtful comments about disease and poverty.”

The diversity of a continent made up of 55 or 56 countries (depending on who you ask), each with unique and complex stories, can be lost amidst media coverage of the also very real civil strife and humanitarian crises in many African nations.

“It’s so important to showcase the diversity & beauty of Africa and with mainstream media not up for the task, social media was the perfect outlet. #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou will continue to promote a positive image and also change misconceptions along the way,” Salah, who is based in Seattle, told Fusion.

The campaign was started by another Twitter user, @WestAfricanne, who has since disabled their account, according to Salah. But she has taken up the cause, calling for people to post different images to expand on what we’re used to seeing in the press:

People have been responding with different images of African life:

“The response we got was amazing, and people were actually shocked to see Africa from the lens of an African and with native Africans joining in the discussion,” Salah said.

#TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou has attracted a few posts on Instagram as well:

Early morning #surf in Durban. #africasurf #sweetwaves #africa #theafricathemedianevershowsyou @cnnafrica

A photo posted by CNN Africa (@cnnafrica) on

https://instagram.com/p/4Trmaotcow/?tagged=theafricathemedianevershowsyou

#theafricathemedianevershowsyou

A photo posted by Jamal St Hill (@digdash7) on

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