Africans, including Zimbabweans urged to tell their own stories

African Development Bank (AfDB) president Akinwumi Adesina
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IN a compelling call to action, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, has emphasized the critical need for Africans to reclaim their narrative and counter prevailing negative stereotypes about the continent.

Addressing the pervasive dominance of negative news surrounding Africa, Adesina underscored the detrimental effects of perpetuating such narratives and urged for a paradigm shift in storytelling.

Adesina lamented the prevalence of adverse news portraying Africa primarily through the lenses of crime, conflicts, crisis, and challenges. He cautioned against the insidious consequences of internalizing and perpetuating such narratives, noting that they not only shape external perceptions but also impact the psyche, beliefs, and aspirations of African youth.

Drawing on a popular saying from his native culture, Adesina emphasized the importance of self-perception in shaping external perceptions. He urged Africans to reject the labels imposed upon them and to take control of their own narrative, asserting, “What you call yourself is the name others will subscribe to you.”

Highlighting the repercussions of negative news on investor confidence and economic development, Adesina pointed to the disparity between Africa’s positive economic indicators and the prevailing negative narratives.

He cited examples of Africa’s economic resilience and growth, such as Moody’s Analytics’ findings on low default rates on infrastructure loans in comparison to other regions.

Despite Africa’s economic successes, Adesina lamented the underreporting of positive news, both by Western media outlets and African journalists working for Western organizations. He cited instances where Africa’s achievements, such as its highest growth rate last year, were overlooked or downplayed in international coverage.

Adesina stressed the imperative for Africans to take ownership of their narrative and to tell their own stories authentically and confidently. He rejected narratives influenced by post-colonial, Cold War mentalities, or biased perspectives, advocating instead for narratives that reflect the diversity, resilience, and achievements of African people.

In conclusion, Adesina called for a collective effort to reshape the narrative about Africa, urging Africans to amplify positive stories about their continent. By reclaiming their narrative and projecting a more accurate and nuanced portrayal of Africa to the world, Adesina believes that Africans can challenge stereotypes, inspire confidence, and drive positive change on the continent.