Branding Africa

Antisarabe Madagascar
Lovers lake Antisarabe Madagascar

A little over a week ago I became aware of an initiative by Africans in the diaspora called #BrandAfrica through a twitter conversation with TMS RUGE and today I was interviewed by him in relation to the African image in the western world.

A UK based journalist called Jon Snow once said Africans are terrible at telling their story, there are so many good things going on in Africa but the Africans are not shouting about them. He should know as he spent several years in Uganda for instance and even managed to get an interview with Idi Amin and it would appear he is right

The Brand Africa project sees African in the diaspora who have had enough of the the poor representation of the continent and are taking advantage of Social media especially to tell their stories.

In the interview with TMS RUGE we spoke about the typical images of Africa, the dying children with flies and what we can do to change that. Yes granted those starving children with flies on their faces do exist however we never get to see the “after pic”

I can remember a conversation I had with a woman earlier this year in April about our project in SW Uganda and wondered whether she would be up to volunteering at teh project.

She asked what the project has got to do with me, before she went on to tell me that Africa isn’t Britain, I asked what she meant and she said well it is a different culture isn’t it? She went on to say that before she agrees to volunteer she would need to know that the set up was the same as it is in Britain specifically that the buses arrive on time?

I must admit to being lost for words for a few minutes before saying to her that we were looking for people with a great sense of adventure and wondered if she felt she met this criteria because this is what you get in Africa.

Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi Kabale SW Uganda

First forward to May 2009 I was at Entebbe Airport and I got into a conversation with a British man for whom this was the first visit to Africa. I asked him if he had enjoyed his visit and he said he had. I asked him whether he had had any thoughts of whatt to expect before he arrived, I nearly fell off the chair when I heard his answer ” I thought there would be animals, lions that sort of thing as soon as I got off the plain but all I saw was a monkey somewhere in the countryside”

Mt Elgon North Eastern Uganda
Sipi River Mt Elgon North Eastern Uganda

As the conversation went on it transpired that he was not aware that the source of the River Nile was in Uganda nor was he familiar with the great explorers like Speke and Stanley.

Why is it necessary to show a different side of Africa? In my mind this is important because only then can Africa start to shake off her image of poverty, disease and be treated like an equal.  Africa offers real opportunities to the rest of the world in terms of business, culture and heritage, but these are never reported because this type of story does not sale News!

Our central message here at Ethnic Supplies is that “African women are capable of lifting themselves out of poverty and just need access to a wider market and equitable trade terms. I am not alone as far as this view is concerned, my good friend and associate Neill Kelsall of RAISE TRADE is passionate about increasing the GDP of African countries through positive PR amongst other things.

So watch this space as Africans start telling their story and I live you some images of Africa

Oh and don’t forget to visit/join our forum

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