As part of Webster University’s effort to engage communities to become more conscious about the potential and true image of Africa, the Ghana campus hosted a public lecture on “Africa in the Eyes of the World and the Role of the Media."
Speakers included Webster Ghana campus faculty members (pictured at left) Esther Armah, Juliet Asante and Marquita Smith, associate professor of journalism. This public lecture is part of a series of such events hosted at the campus in Accra.
Most people who live outside of Africa fail to truly understand its rich, complex and diverse culture. Globally, it is perceived as a land plagued by poverty, war and disease. As the speakers explained, this perception is shaped largely by the media's portrayal.
Smith said few African media organizations cover stories about the continent because of inadequate logistics and struggling press freedom. Consequently, it's more attractive and easier to run reports from western media. However, Smith feels that western media coverage of Africa too often disregards its people's humanity, devalues the mind, and minimizes spirituality and connectivity. It lacks coverage on engaged unity and pride.
Harnessing Nigeria's Film Industry
Asante encouraged Africans to start telling their own stories through films.
"If you don’t tell your story, someone will tell it for you… either way, the story must and will be told," she said.
The African film industry is making a huge impact on the global front, such as the Nigerian film industry called “Nollywood," now the world's second-largest film industry and Nigeria's second-largest employer, contributing around 9 billion naira to its GDP.
Armah also encouraged them to reframe their story through social media. She categorized the benefits of social media into 4P's: Power, Protest, Promotion and Profit, and will enable them to tell their own stories and engage the world.