Africa No Filter, the not-for-profit working on narrative change on the continent, is challenging the development community to adopt more ethical approaches in their storytelling with the launch of its new handbook, How to Write About Africa in 8 Steps: An ethical storytelling handbook.
The handbook was developed to address the rebalancing of the stereotypical narratives about Africa that persist in the development community. Typically, development funders, the media and western storytellers portray themselves as white saviours who heroically rescue Africa from war and hunger, stirring up pity for Africans by leaving out the stories about the agency of communities and individuals to solve their own challenges.
Additionally, stories about the continent often create the misconception that Africa is broken, dependent on outsiders and that its people lack agency.
The handbook hopes to educate and change the usual behaviours that lead to biased stories about the continent. The simple guide remedies the usually unintended consequences of unethical practices of donors and western storytellers in just eight steps.
The handbook is based on interviews with filmmakers, photographers and writers working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
They speak about their ethical challenges, including poor conceptualisation, bad hiring and production practices, problems introduced in post-production and failure to return to show production to the communities/people where the stories were sourced to ensure communities and individuals feel comfortable with the stories being shared about them.