AFRICA No Filter (ANF) says the British Council, the UK-based organisation that supports arts, culture, and education initiatives globally, has come on board to fund its work to shift harmful and stereotypical narratives about Africa.
The British Council will join seven other organisations – Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Luminate, Open Society Foundations, Comic Relief, and the Hilton Foundation – who are all committed to seeing narratives change on the continent. Africa No Filter’s pooled funding now tops $5 million. The funds are used for grant-making, research and advocacy campaigns that highlight narratives and their impact on the continent.
‘New Narratives between the countries of Africa and the UK will not be achieved by any one organisation. The opportunity to work with the ANF collective on this important area allows us to harness our different strengths and networks to achieve a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. I am excited by the possibility and look forward to working with the ANF team in the coming years,’ says Ojoma Ochai, New Narratives programme director at the British Council.
The partnership comes at an important time for Africa No Filter as awareness of its work is growing. The organisation will celebrate its first anniversary in May. It has already made an impact on understanding the role of narrative on perceptions that exist about Africa and Africans, including the release of the How the Media in Africa Covers Africa report. The report found that a third of all stories found in African outlets about other African countries are sourced from western media outlets, 63 percent of outlets surveyed don’t have correspondents in other countries in Africa, and 81 percent of the stories analysed were classified as ‘hard news’ and largely political in nature.
ANF also announced arts, culture, and media grants to support disruptive storytelling about Africa within Africa. In February, ANF announced its first cohort of Academic Fellows who have joined forces to investigate narratives about Africa.
ANF’s executive director Moky Makura welcomed the addition of the British Council to the donor collaborative. ‘It’s amazing that we are able to bring on new partners at this time, given the global disruption the world is experiencing with Covid. It shows the work we are doing to shift narratives is important. Narratives matter, how the world sees Africa and how Africa sees itself has an impact on development – on how aid, investment, and intra-Africa trade works.’
Makura added: ‘The British Council brings immense expertise to the collaborative given its track record and expertise in supporting storytellers – especially young and emerging talent on the continent. New partners mean new funding for us to give to storytellers and for creative projects. They also understand that the success of their work on the continent is underpinned by our ability as Africans to believe in ourselves and not in the stereotypical narratives about and within Africa.’
Moses Anibaba, regional director for sub-Saharan Africa at the British Council, said, ‘Gaps in perceptions are the root cause of misunderstanding in all sort of situations: from friends and family, to relationships between countries. We need to tackle outdated, incorrect and incomplete pictures from Africa and the UK – and the best way to do this is to support and amplify young new voices and creativity.’
Africa No Filter is a donor collaborative that’s working to shift stereotypical and harmful narratives within and about Africa. Through research, grant-making and advocacy our objective is to build the field of narrative change-makers by supporting storytellers, investing in media platforms and driving disruption campaigns.
ANF’s goal over time is to leave an empowered narrative change ecosystem and an informed community of storytellers who work more deliberately to change harmful narratives within and about Africa. The donor collaborative is funded by Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Luminate, Open Society Foundations, Comic Relief, the Hilton Foundation and the British Council.