Jerry Fisayo-Bambi, a Nigerian fast rising international journalist with Euro news and Africanews, where his flagship magazine programme, Inspire Africa, has featured leaders across the continents of the world. The multiple-award winning journalist gives an assessment of the media landscape in Africa in times of global pandemic among other sundry issues.
I absolutely agree with you that media enterprise has changed for good following the advent of Covid-19. The pandemic has affected the way we conduct our businesses whether as journalists, news curators and purveyors to mention just few. What I think is inevitable is for media owners and practitioners to have a grasp of the current trend of things and use that to design a business model that is amenable to the socioeconomic realities.
I will like to preface my response by saying that the more we tell our own stories the better we understand our history and ourselves. And this is important for the wholesome development of our continent and the preservation of our culture as black people.
Today the society is awash with stories from the western world. And the reason is not farfetched. It’s because the audience is fascinated by these stories. Yet a place like Ivory Coast is closer to Nigeria than the US. A place like Senegal, Cape Verde, Congo and if we argue that language is a challenge here, what about Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and the likes?
For the continent to truly emerge and be reckoned with, we must tell our own stories and be interested in each other’s affairs and culture in such a way that showcases the best of us and not always the worst of us. We must take pride in our culture as black people. But I think now is the time to even embrace more of not just Nigeria but of Africa.
We need to look more into the people we are most common with. And understand the sociocultural power we have as a people. All over the continent, many peoples childhood were shaped by Nollywood movies. You go to Ghana Cameroon Congo Gabon Kenya Senegal and you’d be amazed at how strong the Nigerian sociocultural influence is in these places.
So it’s time to also take from these places and understand these people. And appreciate their culture. And I fuse them in what we have and showcase it in a way that projects Africa in a positive light to the outside world.
This is the ambition that drives me when I chronicle the stories of people driving change and innovation on Inspire Africa. I am often thinking perhaps a young man in French speaking Niger or Ivory Coast or the young woman painter or artiste in Uganda struggling to make an impact and drive change. Look at what happened recently to Nigerian artistes in Uganda. When they were arrested over contravening COVID-19 laws, the reaction of Nigerians online, though could be understood, but it also revealed a lot of what Nigerians make of other African countries.
It revealed how much Nigerians view their fellow Africans and this to me is not the best attitude. We need to embrace more of our people as a continent and appreciate their stories their culture and the positive stories of the people like you and I across these countries who are making impact and change across their communities and countries. We must celebrate our commonness and diversity more than the way we celebrate the west.
I think the reportage of COVID has been quite broad. Africa has shown the world it can get something right or actually teach the world how to manage an epidemic. And I think this is a result of collective action on the part of governments on the continent and the media as well.
We need to appreciate the efforts so far and realise the low numbers of COVID-19 contraction that have been recorded on the continent as compared with that recorded in Europe and America is not as a result of any luck.
The international air borders were shut pretty fast. That was action.
Also, mandatory wearing of masks was put in effect in many countries in Africa and then we had hand washing at malls and shopping centres. Africa has dealt with epidemics. Nigeria defeated Ebola. We have dealt with Cholera outbreaks and Lassa fever and can deal with Coronavirus too if we continue to take the concrete measures seriously to combat the spread of the virus.
Over the years, my top challenge has been that we need to draw the attention of people away from the glamour and thrill of the attractive content from the US for example.
In doing so it means we must provide an alternative and as you can see, it is already happening. Nigerian music is appreciated everywhere now. But first it took a deliberate effort of government and some Nigerians to make this possible. We first had to demonstrate that we love and appreciate our own and then the quality improved and the audience ballooned.
Nigeria has produced so many greats; many men and women that have broken barriers internationally and have demonstrated to the world that the black man or African can do it.
It was the stories of these men that inspired me when I left Nigeria to take up a life in Congo where I didn’t speak the language. It is the stories of people like Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Akinwunmi Adeshina, Chimamanda Adichie and the hundreds if not thousands of Nigerians that have demonstrated excellence at home and on a global level that inspires me to do what I do.
So it is important to tell more of the stories of these ones just as we tell the stories of the yahoo boys and the corrupt politicians.