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African Media Must Champion Indigenous Story Telling To Checkmate Western Stereotypes – Access Bank Chairman

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The Chairman of Access Bank Plc, Dr. Ajoritsedere Josephine Awosika has said African media platforms should consistently project great African stories and narratives to avoid western world stereotypes that seek to position the continent as the most extensive frontiers of hunger, disease, corruption, and under-development.

Dr. Awosika alongside other stakeholders in public relations and media, said this at the recently held 22nd NECCI PR Roundtable themed: ‘Danger of a single story: Communication & reputational crisis in Africa’ held at Eko Hotel in Lagos.

In her keynote speech, Dr. Awosika stated that Africans must rise to the occasion and disown every stereotyping message from the west and begin to create messages of prosperity, invention, and development for the continent.

“There are a lot of positive developments in Africa. We must not allow other continents to take ownership of our story. Africa is a continent of prosperity, invention, innovation, and development. Therefore, allowing others to paint us as a continent of hunger, disease, and corruption and referring to us as a developing continent must not be allowed to fester,” Dr. Awosika stated.

According to her, “I am not a communication expert but those in the business of communication and messaging must begin to create and generate positive messaging that truly reflects who we are as people because the continent is blessed and endeavored with some of the best natural resources you can find anywhere in the world.

We are ambassadors of our culture. The ecosystem of Africa is created for a purpose.

“We need our system not to be corrupted. Those at the helm of affairs must also ensure the system is not corrupt. There must be equity and justice. Loopholes must be filled with good governance. Let’s tell the right story by doing the right thing.” She added.

She, however, posited that the continent leaders- leaders of all countries in Africa must begin to offer African good governance so that other parts of the world would not see the continent in a bad light.

Also, Mpumelelo Ndumiso Zondi, Head of Brand & Global Client Lead, Edelman, South Africa, in his paper titled “Danger of a single story: Consequences of Labels and stereotyping. South Africa as a case study”, said that it looks like we all have an idea of what the African problem is, but the solutions seem to be the challenge.

“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 therefore, targeted communications must be created to meet reality. That has been our challenge,” he quipped.

According to the Founder of BEEC International, Mike Okereke, “We have a challenge in Africa to reshape the image of the African continent. We can be blaming others when our actions are counterproductive to what we preach. A good PR must have a constant truth. Therefore, our communications and messaging about the content must reflect the reality on the ground and that way, the rest of the world won’t portray us as primitive and corrupt,” 

L-R: Mr. Charles O’Tudor, Group Principal Consultant ADSTRAT; Dr. Mrs. Dere Awosika, Chairperson Access Bank/keynote Speaker; Mrs. Nkechi Ali-Balogun, Convener, NECCIPR ROUNDTABLE; Mazi Mike Okereke, Founder/President BEEC and Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo, President, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).at the 22nd Edition of NECCIPR Roundtable title Danger of a Single Story: Communication & Reputational Crisis in Africa held at Eko hotel Victoria Island Lagos yesterday

He further said that the problem of Africa is Africa, noting that the solution begins with Africans loving one another. He also said African leaders should make mobility in the continent easy.

President, of Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Mukhtar Sirajo, observed that Nigeria suffers from no story, adding: “We have also taken communication for granted. He described communication as the oxygen of existence.”Nkechi Ali-Balogun, Principal Consultant/CEO of NECCI in her remark stated that “Africa should be one of the world’s superpowers yet due to many challenges that plague the continent; it is one of the poorest continents and often regarded as a dark one. The narrative of the continent is that of war, poverty, terror, corruption, and disease, and no matter their standard of education and achievements, is looked down upon and ridiculed everywhere”.

“I agree with the fact that we have to tell our own story but the stories have to be based on some empirical realities. For instance, is Africa indeed a victim of the single story? Like the proverbial saying, is Africa and Africans the architect of their fortune or misfortune? Whichever way you want to look at it, you must agree with me that the case of stereotypes can be difficult to overcome, even for victims,” Ali-Balogun said.

“We can collectively through various forms of communication find a more structured and definitive way to tell our stories. This could herald the emergence of a movement for change as well as a new narrative to overcome the negative voices that have overshadowed Africa for decades.

We believe that Africa, as the next global frontier, needs to tell her stories and tell them better.

We need you to champion this new drive to reshape our continent and change that single story of Africa and Nigeria in particular as “a place of catastrophe” and a shit-hole,” she stated.

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