Africa is often underreported and misrepresented in mainstream media. AfricanHadithi wants to combat this. This new online platform is committed to highlighting authentic African stories and putting the news into context.
Nwachukwu Egbunike, editor-in-chief of AfricanHadithi and Global Voices author, talks to Global Voices Online about the project.
Global Voices Online (GV): Can you tell us what AfricanHadithi (AH) is and how the idea came about?
Nwachukwu Egbunike (NE): AfricanHadithi (@AfricanHadithi) is an online news portal that seeks to tell the story about Africa. Hadithi means “story” in Swahili. It was launched on February 14, 2014. We wish to zoom into the stories behind the news – usually not reported in the mainstream media. AfricanHadithi seeks to answer the question “so what?” This means providing the context behind the news (good, bad or ugly) that makes headlines about the continent.
AfricanHadithi is the brainchild of Kola Mudele, whose extensive professional trips around the continent showed him a deep gap – the lack of nuanced understanding of African news within the continent itself and also [beyond]. Kola realised that while there are numerous portals that dish out news about the continent, they were in most cases individual efforts and lacked integration. For instance, Anglophone Africa news rarely appears in Francophone Africa, same goes with other language groups within the continent.
Also, the emphasis in many occasions is on the news per se and not the context of the news. As such, AfricanHadithi is not so much interested in recounting the news about Africa – there are many online/offline media doing that already – our focus is to answer the questions “so what?” There has been a Boko Haram terrorist incident in Nigeria, so what? How does it affect the common Nigerian in Bauchi, for instance? How do we lend our voice to the voiceless victim of the vicious attack of these terrorists?
GV: How did you get involved with the project?
NE: Kola infected me with his zeal, just as he did with many contributors and core team members of AfricanHadithi – Africans within the continent and in the Diaspora.
I must say that it was not a difficult task, bearing in mind my passion for telling the factual story of Nigeria and the continent. This was the focus of my first book “Dyed Thoughts: A Conversation in and from my Country”, to ignite a story – using my personal opinion narrations online and offline. Besides, since the project was going to make use of the online platform, it was not be difficult accepting to come on board. That’s what we do on the Global Voices platform, albeit with a different focus and audience.
GV: There are several other websites telling the African story. What is different about African Hadithi?
NE: [...] as I wrote on my blog when introducing the project to the public: “The African continent is broad and vast. The stories she nurtures should also be diverse and breathless. That should be the norm for a continent full of vibrant people with stories unending, a combination of all that is human – the good, bad and not so pretty.”
Asides AH’s vision of providing context, the truth is that Africa is a continent bubbling with unending stories. As such, there cannot be too many platforms telling these stories, rather no matter the number, this story cannot be adequately narrated or exhausted by the current platforms.
GV: How has the reception being so far?
NE: It has been impressive with barely one month of operation (launch date was February 14, 2014). Already we have over 46,000 page hits and counting. We have about 50 contributors who have so far warmed up to the idea and also many others who are willing to contribute. I’ll say that it has been interesting, although we have our eyes on bigger targets.
GV: Can you share with us some of interesting stories that have appeared on African Hadithi?
NE: One of the contributors, David W. Wagacha, thinks that AH will fulfill a prophesy as foretold by Patrice Lumumba, Congolese independence leader and first democratically elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, of Africans writing the African story themselves:
“Lumumba prophesied that there would come a time when Africa shall write her history. A history that will be laced with dignity and glory, a history that reverberates the entire breadth of the Motherland, a history not dictated upon from far way lands, Paris, Brussels, Washington or the United Nations but a history that will be inherently African. A history narrated by Africa.
Today as we launch African Hadithi, we fulfil this prophecy foretold 53 years ago. This becomes the medium from which Africa shall tell her history and stories.”
In another story, Sifa Asani Gowon queries the double life prevalent among Nigerian users of social media platform:
“Social media does, however, possess an unsavoury underbelly – with specific insidious tendencies that many of us are either blissfully unaware of or choose to ignore.
Social media sites can be the most honest-dishonest places in existence. People are free to create alter egos and ‘avatars’ of themselves for the world to see. There is a sense of an alternate reality where the lines are blurred between whom one imagines or believes him/herself to be and what he/she chooses to portray. All rough edges are cleaned up and perfectly placed masks donned for the virtual world to see. And as wondrous as imagination can be, it can also be dangerous when people lose grip of what is actually real.”
Chris Akor discusses aid in “Africa and Western Aid”:
“However, as critical as aid is to state survival in Africa, it is the most disastrous thing to have happened to the continent. It has not only destroyed industries and trade, but it has also fuelled corruption, encouraged government irresponsibility, and undermined efforts to develop a strong taxation system without which no country can truly claim to be developed or self-sustaining. What is more, it has undermined democracy by making African governments accountable to donor countries and agencies rather than to their own people. This is besides the obvious fact that aid donors usually impose their own ideas of development on receiving societies often based on their own priorities and vision.”
GV: How does the project sustain itself financially?
NE: We are working towards attracting venture capitalists in the future, now we rely on ads.
GV: Anything else you want to add?
NE: Africa is a story that is grossly un-narrated and misrepresented. AfricaHadithi hopes to set the bar in telling the authentic African story. Although AH currently covers only Anglophone Africa, we plan to expand in the future to other language groups in the continent.