Role of Representation in the Media

Goals

To identify 2-3 of the most popular social media profiles and social media influencers and provide insights on how they are changing the African narrative to counter negative stereotypes.

Early Findings

Nana Kofi Acquah

  • Nana Kofi Acquah is a "Ghanaian journalist, photographer, poet, painter, blogger and activist known for championing women's rights in Africa; and also influencing and challenging perceptions on Africa mainly through photography."
  • Nana Kofi Acquah has 94.9k followers on his Instagram account.
  • He is also a regular contributor to the Instagram account Everyday Africa, a popular account with more than 400k followers which "showcases images that counter the crippling stereotypes that have long defined an entire continent’s image from the outside".
  • The Everyday Africa feed has spurred a movement of "similar ‘every day’ projects in different parts of the world that aim to challenge stereotypes of their cities."
  • One of Acquah’s popular images is a photo of his children playing on a digital tablet. People were surprised that children in a fishing community in Ghana could own modern electronics.
  • Nana Kofi Acquah stated in an interview that “as a photographer, his core job is to trigger conversations.” He also stated, “If we are not willing to start conversations, no proper changes are ever going to happen."
  • He was listed as one of the 100 photographers worth following on Instagram by Shutterstock.

Prince Gyasi

  • Prince Gyasi has 105k followers on Instagram.
  • His photographic works provide a vibrant contrast to the solemn depictions of African life.
  • He is "a self-described iPhone photographer and artistic vessel; using imagery as his medium to express what he sees and feels".
  • His body of work "conveys arresting and colorful compositions, often featuring portraits of friends, family, and muses in emotive poses against colored backdrops."
  • Gyasi and his partner created a photographic project called ‘BoxedKids’. "The project attempts to help creative, underprivileged children in Jamestown to pursue their creative talents through access to education. The term ‘boxed kids’ describes children who are trapped in a place or situation; specifically referring to the difficulties experienced in Jamestown."
  • In 2018, he was signed to Nil Gallery Paris and had a solo show there. "His works have also been exhibited at the Seattle Art Fair 2018, the Pulse Miami Beach Contemporary art fair, and the Investec Cape Town art fair. Vanity Fair included Prince Gyasi in their article “9 of the Most Exciting Artists to Follow from Miami Art Week 2018,” rating him as number five out of nine."
  • In an interview he stated, "for me to show that I am a Ghanaian, I have to make sure the stories here are told... To be able to get the truth out there, I have to do it myself. I am not going to wait for someone to tell me that this is how the story goes. It’s been done before, and we need to correct that. It is important for us to use our art to tell the truth.”

Josef Adamu

  • Josef Adamu has 30.1k followers on Instagram and is a Toronto-based creative director and model.
  • He mentioned in an interview that he is "a firm believer that everyone has a unique story to tell, which others can learn a lot from," and that "authentic black stories should not go overlooked.
  • In 2018, he started the agency Sunday School, as "his outlet for personal projects and as a service to execute ad campaigns and manage social media for up-and-coming people and brands, all with the main goal of bringing authentic black narratives into greater prominence in American culture."
  • He is tapping into the market of "minority storytelling," as there aren't enough of these stories being told through minority backgrounds and he wants to contribute to solving this problem.
  • He is working with musicians like Mick Jenkins and Jazz Cartier, and "rapidly growing a portfolio of photographic and video works to show how to better present a more diverse range of stories in the media."

Laetitia Ky

  • Laetitia Ky has 276k followers on Instagram and over 36,000 on Facebook.
  • She is an Ivory Coast-based Artist who makes inventive sculptures with her hair and also works as a fashion designer.
  • Her work aims to "promote a vision of African beauty grounded in precolonial aesthetic traditions; a commitment to body-positivity; and a well-defined feminist politics."
  • Her works also act as social commentaries. In 2017, she "designed a work in which a male figure looks up the skirt of a woman as a comment on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and victim-shaming. In protest of American anti-abortion laws, she unveiled an image of a uterus with each fallopian tube flipping the bird."

Summary

  • For this hour, we identified popular social media profiles and social media influencers and gave insights on how they are changing the African narrative to counter negative stereotypes. We were able to identify Nana Kofi Acquah and Prince Gyasi, and included insights on Josef Adamu and Laetitia Ky.
  • In the course of our research, we also came across some insights on the power of positive storytelling for the African narrative and insights on how Afrofuturism is creating a different narrative for Africa, which might also be of interest.
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