Ugandan women smiling. (152346)
Credit: Jjumba Martin photo

Most images and stories of African culture portrayed in the media are negative, sad and tragic. When you search African people and houses on Google, starving children, poverty and huts appear.

Seventeen-year-old Rachel Markham, from Ghana, felt the world needed to know that the Africa the media shows does not define the entire continent by starting the campaign “The Africa the Media Never Shows You” via Twitter.

“Because of what the media shows people on almost a daily basis, yes, we do have our own share of problems, but is that all you are going to showcase?” she said while speaking with the Amsterdam News. “Behind all of the poverty is success … and yet there is not enough coverage done on those aspects of Africa.”

The hashtag “TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou” is changing the way people view and understand Africa. Her friend Diana Salah, a 22-year-old Somali-American student, helped propel the campaign.

“African has a story to tell,” Salah tweeted, “and it’s about time it’s told by Africans.”

Markham said people need to be educated on African culture, cuisine and average day-to-day life that Africans experience.

“I want the audience to grasp the idea that they shouldn’t believe everything the media pumps into their mind,” she said. “It almost seems like it’s propaganda to portray Africa as a continent that is completely under the mud.”

The hashtag has been used over 60,000 times and has even trended in South Africa.

“I was surprised at the progress and feedback we had gotten,” Markham said. “The responses to the hashtag is quite excellent, but we won’t stop here. We are good to keep going and encourage more Africans, around the world and also natives, to participate because it also helps our tourism industries, which are very important to us.”

There are 56 countries in Africa and over 1,500 spoken languages. By displaying modern art, fashion, nature, healthy children with big smiles, metropolitan areas and many more aspects of African culture and lifestyle in pictures posted by Twitter users, they all show the diversity of the continent. Markham said the Internet can be misleading by only showing the negative living situations in Africa.

“Some people actually still think to this day that Africa is a wasteland, but I want to encourage people to see for themselves,” she said. “Africa is an amazing place, and this campaign is going to help get that message out.”

However, Markham added the hashtag i not meant to discredit images suffering at all, but to celebrate the beauty.

“The world will soon finally know the motherland we know and love as Africans,” she said.