There is a revolution going on right now shifting how we consume content and how it is created and that shift is expected to stay for years to come.
In Africa, Storytellers are finding new ways of packaging their message, to expressing how we as a human race feel, how we document our history, create and celebrate our heroes and imagine the future – through words, music, and film.
This year, there have been fewer skills as important as ensuring positive and cohesive societal response.
Over the years, storytelling has been used as a tool of weaving society together and has played a key role in making people more human and by amplifying values like empathy, kindness, and justice.
One thing I have seen happen, is more people have found more time to read, watch documentaries, and learn from heroes the world has celebrated. There has been an understanding that strong societies find solidarity and solace in their heroes.
In Africa, we are told we are lucky to live in a special place. I mean the youngest continent on earth, home to some of the fastest-growing economies, an increasingly educated and exposed population, yet, we cannot find the time to look up and remember just how special the continent is.
Regrettably, we as Africans and especially African media still ride on the old narrative of a bleeding Africa. A colonial mindset of a continent in need of saving and redemption, yet we just need more faith, more belief that we can, more examples of those who made it, and boy don’t we have them in plenty.
Think for example of the incredible story of Chief Teresa Kachindamoto of Dedza District in Malawi. While millions of dollars are poured into the continent every year for campaigns against FGM and ending child marriage, this Malawian matriarch earned the title of the marriage terminator for her effective methods in ending over 2,000 child marriages in her county at least by early 2020.
If not Malawi then the indomitable spirit of Ken Sarowiwa who serves as an inspiration to environmentalists and land rights campaigners on the continent. Although assassinated by a brutal government regime, Ken is remembered for his fight against international oil corporations and the Nigerian government to clean up the environmental disaster in the Ogoni land of the Niger delta.
These are heroes whose stories have very relevant lessons to the present day and tomorrow Africa. Sadly, these stories do not get enough coverage. While it’s true, producing these stories is a costly affair, it's time media houses thought of collaborations as a way of feeding their audience with content that speaks to their hearts. As African media organizations, be it broadcast, digital, or print, we have long assumed that all our audience thirst for is politics and cheap entertainment, but the tide is changing, because there is a disruption.
Although media remains a critical tool for the dissemination of information, the consumers of content are increasingly becoming picky. With the digital media burst and a growing internet penetration around Africa, audiences realize they have freedom of choice on the content they want to consume. They are educated to carefully choose facts from fiction and filter negative from positive and time-worthy content. This change has brought into focus the media’s role in agenda-setting and is causing a shift for media managers to cater more to the needs of the changing taste of their audience.
This trend is not about to stop and so the sooner the broadcasters change their focus to publish more educative, informative, and well told stories, we will continue losing the eyeballs and shrinking the market share both on TV and our digital portfolios.
To effectively cater to the growing economies on the continent, information is power. Credible information is even more important. While data, the driven approach continues to help businesses and to take decisive steps in their growth strategy.
George Mutero, Audio-visual Storyteller