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The African Narrative

Africa Rising: From Hopeless Africa to Rising Africa
Lady wearing orange top

Two main narratives have been used in the media to portray Africa:

  1. Afro-pessimist narrative: portraying the continent as a place of poverty and disease.
  2. Afro-optimist narrative: shows Africa as a place of creativity, agency, and pride. “Africa Rising” has been used to describe the surge of pride, creativity, and agency observable on the continent.

Africa is a rich continent in terms of material wealth, but its main resources remain the people, especially the youth. There is a new generation of entrepreneurs, creatives, social activists who use their work to reframe the African narrative. They have a contemporary mindset and their actions are directed towards the future, but they are also reclaiming their heritage and African culture.


  • Are you familiar with either of the two narratives and which if the two resonates with you the most?

Share your answer with your peers down below.

In preparation for the week ahead, see the suggested reading list below to give you a head start.

Suggested Reading :
1. Klanten, R., Ehman, S., Obrecht, V. & Indaba, D., 2016. Africa Rising: Fashion, Design and Lifestyle from Africa, Berlin: Design Indaba; Gestalten.
2. Jennings, H., 2011. New African Fashion. London: Prestel.
3. Jaegher, C. D. & Gansbeke, R. V., 2014. Haute Africa: Photography. Fashion. Brussels : Lannoo Publishers.
4. Young, R., 2015. BOF. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 11 November 2020].

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