Following long history of foreigners telling African stories in their perspective, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has canvassed for a change in how African story is being told.
The President urged African public relations experts to ensure that African narrative is redirected to highlight positive elements that exist in the continent rather than placing up those negative attributes, which no continent can claim do not exist in among them.
Buhari made this disclosure at the 2016 African Public Relations Association conference inn Calabar, Cross Rivers State themed Leapfrogging Africa: The Role of Communication. The President’s goodwill message was delivered by Mrs. .Nkechi Ali-Balogun, former Chairperson of Lagos Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR.
He said, “since Africa has been perceived as a continent of strive, war, pestilence, anarchy, corruption and massive poverty, as portrayed by the foreign media, a lot of these are prevalent, but the truth is that there are also good stories about us (Africa).
Across the globe, Africa and Africans are achieving phenomenal feats in their various endeavors, it is time for us to change the narrative, it is time us to sell a positive Africa, one that is full of hope and a brighter tomorrow.
“For this new Africa to emerge her citizens have to embrace change. We can no longer do things the way we used to, and expect different results, we must modernize, by modernizing I mean we embrace knowledge, knowledge means education and technology.”
Buhari further stated that in Nigeria, people voted for these change, “only last year we were able to prove to the world that Africa can uphold the novelty ideals by successfully electing electing a party, thitherto in opposition into government.
Continuing, “at the assumption of office we quickly realised that challenges were much more than we had ever imagined, therefore we had to painstakingly retract the cost of governance,this has no doubt occasioned severe belt tightening decisions.”
Chairman of Danger Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, represented by Head of Communication of the Group, Tony chiejina, said the conference theme is not only exciting but also poses a challenge to practitioners in a key development sector of any modern society.
for too long, he said, “Africa and it’s citizens have endured negative profiling by the international media and other communication outlets, largely owned and controlled by the powerful advanced nations, as part of cultural imperialism. But it could not have been otherwise, given that the foreign media have their own agenda, which does not include the burnishing of Africa’s image.
“All often, the foreign media have helped to reinforce negative stereotypes about Africans,” Dangote stated.
He went further to say that the biased and stereotypical agenda, good news from Africa is either suppressed or slanted. This is not because the continent lacks the human capital to project it’s image, but largely because the political will and the relevant information communication and technology, ICT, tools and infrastructure are either non-existent or cannot be portrayed in a bad light to strengthen the negative profiling and perpetrate the exploitation of the continent by the neo-colonial economic and political forces.”
According to him, “attempts have been made in the past to narrow the imbalance in the world information/communication order by the UNESCO and Sean McBride commission, but with similar global initiatives, the collective will for implementation is always a problem.”