In response to the oversimplification of African identity that is so often told, Africans have started a social media campaign, #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou, to show the rest of the world that Africa is more just a picture of poverty or lions in the bushveld.
According to a TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian novelist was told that her stories were not authentic African stories because instead of characters that are starving, her characters drove cars and lived a middle-class life.
At 19-years-old, Chimamanda attended an American university. She says her roommate was shocked to learn not only did Chimamanda know the English language, but that it is an official language in Nigeria. She also seemed disappointed when Chimamanda produced a copy of Mariah Carey’s CD instead of ‘tribal music.’
Chimamanda says her roommate’s default position towards her as an African was patronising, but well-meant pity because her story of Africa is a single narrative of catastrophe where Africans are not equal or similar to western civilisations.
Too often, the story of Africa is told through this single narrative where the subject of a portrait painted of our continent is of a starving, bone thin mother and her sickly child suffering from malnutrition and a swollen belly.
An HIV+ mother, a father struggling to care for his family and an orphaned baby - these are the characters who globally play the narrative of a poor Africa. And for those yet to visit our continent, these kinds of images often become the Africa that the entire world sees.
Yes, human tragedy and forms of extreme poverty exists in Africa. But that is not all. And this hashtag, which has now been used over 54,000 time, wants to show you just how beautiful Africa is.
Here are some of the tweets: