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Why Africa must unite to change global image, narrative on continent, by Alsharif



For decades, the global narrative about Africa has dwelt on poverty, violence, diseases, and un civilization. Many have argued that the continent has failed to change this narrative because it has been polarised by ideas that are not only alien to the continent but have underdeveloped the people.

It would not be out of place to say that solving these overall issue will make it easier for the continent to solve all other issues such as poverty, corruption, fragile political institutions and so on. Also, understating the significant of the overall issues will help Africa understand that the problems facing it are not inherent or its neutral characteristics and should not become its features.

At the recent African Women In Dialogue (AfWID) conference in Johannesburg, Ms. Hager Alsharif of Together We Build It (Libya) argued that Africa´s problems were human-made and not natural, and as such, the continent had the capacity and ability to solve them.


She pointed out that though Africans have internal shortcomings and failures, she listed three external factors that prevent the people from progressing to be world politics, world economics, and world media.

African leaders, governments, organisations, bodies, and individuals have often spoken of the importance of Africans telling their own stories to the rest of the world, as key to changing the global narratives about the continent.

The global narrative about Africa is of such a critical issue, said Alsharif while giving the closing speech at AfWID. “We all know that narratives are power and power to protect and ensure rights. If you do not own your narrative then you are powerless, and if you are powerless you cannot protect your rights,” she reiterated.

She said Africa must become powerful and stand up for its rights, adding, “We should own our narrative and speak of facts which are that; Africans are not poor, we are born into poverty. How can we be the poorest when we sit on reserves of oil, gas, diamonds, gold, titanium and the list goes on.

“Secondly, Africans are not violent, we are born into violence. The majority of Africans are peaceful and refuse violence, while the minority that joined armed groups are not only supported by national political powers but sometimes also by foreign powers.

“Moreover, the inequalities and injustices that make African immigrants risk their lives at the Mediterranean sea are not only a result of internal dysfunction, but they are also a result of a global dysfunction of the political and economical world order.”


The worst effect of how the world perceives Africa is the fact that most Africans now believe some of these perceptions, which is readily seen in today’s children and generations to come, as more Africans would grow up being told that they are ‘inherently’ useless and hopeless.

For Alsharif, “Our kids need to grow up knowing that they can all be a combination of Bill Gates and Nelson Mandella. We need Africa to become a land of ambition; a land of big dreams and big hopes. But people cannot dream if they are told that their grandparents were hopeless and useless, their parents are hopeless and useless and they are definitely going to be hopeless and useless.”

She pointed out that Africa was in a peaceful fight, as the content does not have control over its politics and economics.

She urged Africans not to accept, embrace and use the negative global narrative on Africa. Saying, “We should challenge the use of terminologies that includes a sense of underestimation and degradation to Africa, for example, the use of ‘Developing’ continent and ‘Third world’ continent.”

But these terminologies are not the worst things about the global narrative of Africa. What about the photos of African kids roaming all around the world on adverts for raising money and donations or the African kids sitting on the back of a truck holding guns?

She stressed, “Africans need to call out all forms of injustices and inequalities whether they are African made or foreign made. The fight to be in control of the global narrative about Africa can start right.

“Africa does not need help, it needs justice. Africa does not need aid, it needs fair business. We do not need to be educated about our rights, we need the world to respect our rights. We need the world to stop interfering in our national and internal affairs with the name of state-building and peace-building.

“If we unit we become powerful, and when we become powerful we will be able to protect and ensure our rights. Regardless of what our governments, we the people of Africa; we the Africans must unite.”


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