Writer Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote in White Nights and Other Stories, ‘But how could you live and have no story to tell?‘ At PfAL, we are constantly challenging our members to dig deep, examine their lives and identify how they can contribute to the progression, or even reshaping, of Africa’s future.
On Thursday 26th February 2015, PfAL@LSE addressed the field of media in a discussion with three established African media professionals, chaired by Dr Wendy Willems, Assistant Professor in LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. On the panel were Jeff Koinange, a Peabody- and Emmy-award-winning broadcast journalist; Agnes Gitau, Director for the London-based East Africa Business Network; and Salim Amin, Chairman of Camerapix and Co-Founder/Chairman of A24 Media.
Mr Koinange started the discussion by bringing attention to the importance of pushing the true African narrative into the media.
Ms Gitau stepped up next with her views on how the portrayal of Africa in the media can influence present and future investment in Africa. In her concluding remarks, she looked squarely at the group and asked:
“The African story has been challenged. What are we doing – what are you doing – as Africans?”
She urged the group to use the platforms that are available to them presently – social media, for example – to speak up and change the common perception of Africa as continent as a war-torn, corrupt and poverty-stricken continent.
On the back of this challenge, Mr Amin came to the podium to talk about his experience trying to produce positive, but accurate and high-calibre content in the media. Though there will be barriers – adequate funding, safety and support, for example – digital platforms offer various avenues for Africans to tell their stories about Africa.
“As long as you have good content, every platform is your friend,” said Salim emphatically.
PfAL students were certainly waiting to grill the three panellists during the Q&A session. Many questions revolved around the practical ways they could positively impact Africa’s shifting narrative in the media and sought advice about how to deal with the longstanding challenges, from transparency to funding to proper training or education. Though it seemed like the session could have continued for another hour, Dr Willems wrapped up the event and the group continued the conversations into the reception.