For stakeholders in the nation’s integrated marketing communications space, the time is now for Africa to take charge of its narratives, and stop the well-orchestrated ‘single’, and lopsided narratives of the West about the continent; since such single stories have done incalculable damage to the image of the continent.
Making the appeal at the 22nd NECCI PR Roundtable, held recently in Lagos, the experts comprising Public Relations practitioners, media chiefs and industry captains, argued that African stories and narratives should be told by Africans since the foreign narratives about Africa have not helped the cause of the continent.
Delivering her keynote address tagged: ‘Danger of a single story: Communication & Reputational Crisis in Africa’, the Chairman of Access Bank Plc, Dr. Ajoritsedere Josephine Awosika stated that Africans must begin to consciously disown stereotypes of hunger, poverty, disease and corruption the western media had tagged it, and create messages of prosperity, invention and development for, and about, the continent.
She argued that the continent has a lot of positives to showcase and, as a result, should never allow other continents to take ownership of its story.
Awosika, therefore, charged communication experts in the continent on the need to create and generate positive messaging that truly reflects the African people, and the continent’s immense natural resources.
She also charged African leaders on the need to sanitise the system, offer good governance, and stamp out corruption, adding that the continent would be best positioned to tell the right story when its leaders begin to do the right thing.
In his paper titled: “Danger of a single story: Consequences of Labels and Stereotyping: South Africa as a case study”, Head of Brand & Global Client Lead, Edelman, South Africa, Mpumelelo Ndumiso Zondi noted that finding solutions to Africa’s well-known challenges remains a major concern.
“There must be a deliberate attempt by Africans to solve Africa’s problems. We must know that the solutions we seek can only be provided by Africans,” Zondi stated.
Founder of BEEC International, Mike Okereke, noted that the greatest challenge confronting Africa borders on reshaping the continent, hence the need for a good PR, containing constant truth.
Okereke, therefore, insisted that communications and messaging about the continent must reflect the reality on ground, so as to check the stereotypes of corruption and other vices, the rest of the world had tagged people from the continent.
In his contributions, the President, Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Mukhtar Sirajo, observed that Nigeria is in dire straits; since communication, which he described as ‘oxygen of existence’, is being taken for granted.
The NIPR boss described the ongoing political campaigns in the country as shallow; since candidates are not disclosing steps to take Nigeria out of its problems.
Describing Africa as a victim of ‘single story’, the convener of the forum, Mrs. Nkechi Alli-Balogun, stressed the need for Africans to take up the task of championing Africa’s narratives.
According to her, the continent should have been one of the superpowers in the world, but for the challenges plaguing the continent, which had reduced it to the exact opposite of the status it should have occupied.