The African continent is a unique and diverse continent with rich history, cultures and traditions. The story of the continent has, however, been checkered depending on who is telling the story and for which audience.

Africa, especially in the eyes of the Western media, has focused on things going wrong.

This is particularly detrimental because of the relative lack of other widely accessible sources of knowledge about the continent, especially by the African media.

Representation of Africa, Africans and African issues in the international media has always been problematic because of the flow of news and the fact that international media reports are influenced by Western ideas, ideology and political positions.

It is a well-established fact that media frames that appear in news are influenced by stereotypes and prejudices that shape the production of editorial content.

Evidence abounds of the negative portrayal of the African continent in elite global press, suggesting a socially constructed view of Africa, which some people have termed ‘Afro-pessimism’.

Within this Afro-pessimism narrative is the dominance of certain types of imagery, representation, story angles and tone of coverage that reinforce Western stereotypes of the African continent.

The dominant themes in the portrayal of Africa in the Western media include African political and financial corruption, Africa as a synonym for corruption, and Africa is a continent convulsed with tribal wars.

One may argue that these portrayals are backed by historical antecedents, such as the fact that there has been a perennial problem with a constant focus on the ‘democratic deficit’ of Africa with reference to dictatorships and/or rigged elections.

There is also a plethora of cases of corruption involving state actors and people in public office on the African continent.


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