Africans Using Social Media to Combat Negative Cultural Stereotypes

We’ve all seen the television commercials of the malnourished, naked children surrounded by flies. We’ve seen the images of deserted dirt roads, shabby one room school houses, and people desperate for water and healthcare. For those of us social media junkies, we’ve even seen the image of half naked African kids dancing that’s often used as a meme. While these descriptions may in fact be a reality in some villages, cities, or countries in Africa, it certainly does not reflect such an enormous and incredibly diverse continent as it is often perceived.

As Heather Dockray wrote in Good Magazine, if you open up a newspaper, turn to the International Section, and look under “Africa,” chances are you’re highly likely to find images of war, starvation, hunger, or disease. These may be real problems being faced, but is it by design that these are frequently the only items being presented on their behalf? What if the rest of the world only saw news from the United States related to Chicago murders, our grossly high prison population, homelessness in our major metropolitan cities, police brutality, high cancer and AIDS rates, and traffic fatalities? Those are indeed many of our challenges, but focusing only on those would cause one to completely miss an equally long list of positive success stories. We should examine the continent of Africa and it’s countries in an equally fair manner. Unfortunately however, it often feels as if that is not the case.

Such circumstances prompted a group of young Africans to organize a campaign, first on Twitter and later on Instagram, known as: #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou. This hashtag allowed the organizers to post positive propaganda related to their continent in an organized manner. Better yet, anyone who enjoyed the campaign was free to participate themselves to add on to it. Before long, thousands of incredible posts and pictures were flooding Twitter and Instagram from users worldwide. From large stadiums to contemporary architecture to high fashion, the campaign has quickly earned tens of thousands of tweets, with more pouring in by the second.

Diana Salah, who helped to organize the campaign, told Fusion: “I got involved because growing up, I was made to feel ashamed of my homeland, with negative images that paint Africa as a desolate continent.” She then added: “It’s so important to showcase the diversity and beauty of Africa and with the mainstream media not up for the task, social media was the perfect outlet.” Of course, war and poverty remain prescient issues for many on a continent of over 1 billion people. But that doesn’t mean that Africa isn’t home to so many other stories and images that desperately need to be shared.

Take a look at some of the pictures I enjoyed below, or you may personally view some of the thousands of pictures yourself here.

Cape Town, South Africa. One of the most beautiful cities in the world. 




cape town



This is the beautiful Lake Retba, about an hour outside of Dakar, Senegal. The waters are pink due to a unique type of algae in the waters. It’s nearly 40% saltwater, so you could easily float in it as well. Salt is collected from it and distributed throughout the region, and people protect their skin from it by using Shea Butter.


pink lake senegal



Ancient African Architecture: The Mosques of Mali. Made from mud, rock, and other earth minerals. The Great Mosque of Djenne is one of the most famous landmarks in Africa (Alkebulan) and was considered a great achievement of its time.

mali mosques




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Rwanda: The land of a Thousand Hills

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