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African Officials Seek to Change Contintent's Image


The image of Africa as a "dark continent," plagued by wars, poverty and famine, overshadows the rich culture and international contributions Africa and its people have to offer. That's the view of media and government representatives from across the continent, who are meeting in Ghana to consider ways to change Africa's image.

Negative portrayal of Africa has been a source of worry to African leaders and civil society groups for some time now. The three-day meeting in Accra, organized by the African Communication Agency, is aimed at "re-branding" Africa.

Erika Bennet, vice-chairperson of the organizing agency, explains what the participants expect of foreign media.

"All we are saying [is] to be balanced about what you are saying about Africa. Talk about the beautiful culture we have here," said Bennet. "Talk about the wonderful people, the innovative people that we have. When you look at the West, and you begin to look critically at who has been able to do some of the serious things, these are diasporians, these are people from Africa, who made tremendous contributions around the world, and this is what we are saying. Let's begin to report some of those stories."

Shado Twala, a media relations officer from South Africa, says it is important to highlight things that, in her words, "develop our countries, as opposed to make us look the way we do now."

"Which is just a starving continent, a dark continent, with a lot of wars. Yes, there is war, yes there is famine, yes there is poverty. But, out of that poverty, I think we can look at what to do to curb it," noted Twala.

Ghana's minister of tourism and diaspora relations, Jake Obestebi-Lamptey, says every African country needs to work hard at telling positive stories of the continent.

"There is a lot of good news coming out of Africa, [we need] to get that good news across to a world that does not want good news about Africa. So, that is how we [have] got to now really work harder at telling the better story of Africa, because that better story of Africa will also encourage other African countries where there are problems to want to be also part of the better story."

The theme of the meeting is "Re-branding Africa." It is being supported by the African Union, African Development Bank and the World Bank.

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