The Internet is flooded with personal blogs and articles of people’s experiences in the world. Whether it’s about their travels, disease fighting or poetry verses, the Wide World Web seems the best place to entrust the inners of a person and share them with the world.
Sharing African stories is an important component of creating the right image of Africa in front of the world. Stories of great accomplishments, creative endeavors, and adventurous undertakes. Narratives of everyday Africans; their hopes and dreams, what they believe and strive for, and how they deal with their struggles.
When we share our experiences, our stories and our feelings, we contribute to how people see us as individuals but also as part of a community. When one African shares his or her experience, we believe that all Africans, from that specific country, are the same way or will all act similarly in such situation. But when many Africans share about the same thing in different manners, we can set them apart and by extension believe that they are not all the same. It is similar to every part of the world.
Even though I’m against stereotypes, I understand why people feel the need to categorize others. When in fear, people feel safer when they identify someone by their race or religion. To them, it would mean they could find out how to act according to the common knowledge, regardless of the person in front of them. It is like a safety measure that is triggered in our heads.
Becoming open-minded and accepting can be a decision to change one’s perspective, but it can also be a result from the exposure to people from different countries and cultures, and understanding their ideas and stories.
Not everyone, however, has the luxury of traveling or meeting other nationalities. The Internet solved this for us. It is only required for the person to go online and find content from around the world. But what if those stories don’t exist? What if there aren’t enough of them?
As we share our feelings and stories we find similarity across borders but also uniqueness.
Youtube channels such as Buzzfeed Video or Refinery29 are some examples of entities that put out diverse video content. They tackle topics such as LGBT, beauty standards, privilege and many more.
Recently, actress America Ferrera created a video series about Latinos called “Gente-fied”. She, along with many others, left behind the stereotypical topics like drug and gangs, and focused on human interactions and everyday experiences of Latino people.
However, these efforts are not enough, we lack representation from other communities and countries. I think that it’s important for Africans to embrace storytelling and the different ways to deliver it. Whether it’s through video, photography, writing or any other creative medium.
As many places around the world still lack technology and the Internet, I believe that the old ways are also beneficial to spread information such as books, magazines and photography exhibitions.
Christian Ghammachi is a Lebanese photographer who toured Africa in his motorbike. He chose the less traveled roads and tribes to discover. After his travels, he went back to his country to convey his experience through exhibitions and TV interviews, not only in Lebanon but also in all the Arabic countries.
When we share this type of content, we provide the world a zoom into the reality and experiences of people. Through photos, videos or articles, sharing and spreading the word makes stereotypes wither and die out little by little.
The decision to stop limiting ourselves and open our minds, whether to share or to receive, results in amazing things. It is the celebration of variety and diversity. Sharing experiences, stories, culture or art spreads solidarity and compassion. It is the celebration of humanity.