What is your view of Africa?

This is a slight detour from the three-part series to consider how Africa is viewed as a continent and how we view Africans. One of EWB’s volunteer’s recently posted an incredible article outlining the power of images and how they represent Africans. Please check out the link : http://waterwellness.ca/2010/04/28/perspectives-of-poverty/

Here is another article that presents a really interesting perspective on how Africa is viewed in the media: http://www.granta.com/Magazine/92/How-to-Write-about-Africa/Page-1.

So what do you think, what is your view of Africa and how is that shaped by the media through which Africa is presented?

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!


6 responses to this post.

  1. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Christian, iwspo.net


  2. Hi Lauren

    So as a fairly educated individual and a member of EWB I though I had a well informed view of Africa. I tried to take media bias into account. But apparently, even with my best efforts, I was totally unprepared for what I have seen here in Ghana.

    I think one of the major problems with media’s representation of Africa is that it turns the people into symbols. We do not see Africans as people with different attitudes, ambitions, and emotions. We do not see them as individuals. We see them as symbols of despair, hunger, maybe hope. But not as people. Not as individuals. And that is a sad.

    Hope your enjoying your extended stay in Toronto. Rest up. I hope your flight out goes smoothly tomorrow. Ghana is amazing. I’m enjoying myself sooo much. I know you’ll love the continent too.
    Take care



  3. Posted by Jessica Barker on May 20, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Hey Lauren

    Dave, Kate, Frank (one of the employees at Zoomlion) and I were actually just having a conversation about media portrayals of African people. I read the article that you posted called How to Write About Africa. It saddens me how much the media skews things just to sell books, get donations and make a “good story”. Why is it that an skinny African person wearing ragged clothes and no shoes standing infront of a garbage heap is considered a good story? It’s unfortunate but people in Canada focus too much on the negative things in life. Very infrequently does a positive story come out of Africa and so the average person continues with their perception that Africa is one big country and the people there are poor and have HIV/AIDS. One of the things that I hope I can help show people who read my blog is how different Ghana is than what they think. Thanks for posting the article!

    Hope that you are able to fly out soon! Jess


  4. Posted by Carlie on May 20, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Lauren! This all looks so fantastic! and i actually started getting a little teary eyed when i read “T – 40 mins till pre-dep” in your last email! i am so incredibly excited for you! I’ll be following your every update on all the amazing things you will accomplish!!

    Love lots!


  5. Thanks for all of the thoughts. I found Duncan’s post extremely eye opening and am seeing a lot of parallels where I am living in Malawi.

    One thing that has really struck me is my perception of ‘dirty children,’ you see dirty children in World Vision and other organization’s commercials in tattered clothing and have a perception that they are sick or dying. I encountered children of exactly that description in my village within minutes of arriving and was shocked to see children right in front of my door in such a condition. After a couple of hours I realized a couple of things:

    1) It is nearly impossible to stay clean for any period of time in a village in Malawi (especially in an area as hot as Chikwawa)

    2) Children are much closer to the ground (I might be dirtiest up to my knees…that is their whole height)

    3) Children play and get way dirtier as a result

    4) Play clothing is often tattered when you don’t have much money to be purchasing many articles of clothing

    Although Malawi is a poorer country, after spending a couple of days in the village I can tell you those children who are dirty in tattered clothing are happy and fed (not a particularly well balanced diet as it is carb heavy). As soon as I get home from work they all run to see me and gather around me on a reed mat to teach me songs and dances.


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