Akon gave a very insightful speech at the last African Youth Conneckt summit in the summer of 2017. His idea of rebranding Africa was one that caused his listeners to think about how they view themselves, the continent and how Africans should be in control of how they portray the continent.

He made a strong key point by saying that America is viewed as the greatest country on earth because that is how they portray themselves in the media. Many major catastrophes that happen in America are seldom reflected in the media for the world to see, and that is because America picks and chooses what they want the world to think of them. America is fully aware that people will be drawn to the country if they show the best that it has to offer. Africa on the other hand gets the short end of the stick as the major world media outlets often present stories and images about the continent that would cause one to think twice about going there.

The African continent has always been presented as a global wasteland that needs the assistance of the West to survive. War, strife, political unrest and poverty are the main images that are presented to the world and anyone who is constantly fed ideas such as these would be fearful of going to such a place. If African media took control of what they want to put out they could change the ideas that persons across the globe have of the continent. This could then interest people from all over to want to come to the continent and experience the greatness it has to offer.

Akon made a comment in his speech saying that entertainers, filmmakers and producers, the press and anyone that creates content should take part in redefining this continent, because these individuals have the power to effect change. They can present the great civilization and technology that is alive and well in Africa which will be a break away from the images of poverty and despair that is so often presented. The rich culture that exists in the many different countries on the continent is something great rather than archaic and out of touch with reality because that is another image that the world has of Africa. Its cultural practices are viewed as something unusual and not tolerable for civilized people. However, the media can control this image and flip it to show that African customs are as a great as the people who practice them.

It is a new era in Africa as the continent is making great strides economically and technologically. Africa now has the ability to take control of how it wants the world to perceive it. Many Africans on the continent are beginning to realize how great home really is and hopefully the media mentioned by Akon can get on board and begin to challenge western notions of Africa and show the world that it is the greatest place on earth.

Featured image | Akon Delivers Opening Remarks at Women and Youth Day Opening Session in Nairobi Kenya July 24 2015 | U.S Embassy Nairobi : flickr

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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