Ben Okri, the renowned Nigerian author and poet, once mused, “To poison a nation, poison its stories. A demoralised nation tells demoralised stories to itself. Beware of the story tellers who are not fully conscious of the importance of their gifts, and who are irresponsible in the application of their art.” These words hold significant relevance in the context of brand Africa, where narratives can either elevate or diminish a nation’s standing in the global community.

For centuries, Africa has been plagued by negative stereotypes and false narratives that portray the continent as a land of poverty, disease, and war. These stories have been perpetuated by the media and Western literature, which have created a one-dimensional view of Africa, one that fails to acknowledge the diversity, complexity, and richness of the continent and its people.

In many ways, the damage that has been done by these negative narratives is not just external but internal as well. Africans themselves have come to believe in the negative stories about their continent, leading to a sense of inferiority and a lack of pride in their own heritage and culture.

Ben Okri’s words highlight the importance of storytelling in shaping a nation’s identity and self-image. When stories are told without consciousness or responsibility, they can be damaging to the psyche of a nation. But when they are told with care, insight, and a deep understanding of the power of storytelling, they can inspire and uplift.

In the context of brand Africa, the stories we tell about our continent and its people can either promote or undermine our efforts to change the narrative. The stories we tell can shape the perceptions of our continent, and in turn, influence how we are perceived by the rest of the world.

Changing the narrative on brand Africa is a complex and ongoing process that requires a multifaceted approach. It involves not only telling positive and authentic stories about Africa, but also addressing the systemic issues that have contributed to negative perceptions of our continent.

One of the first steps in changing the narrative on brand Africa is to challenge and dismantle the negative stereotypes and biases that have been perpetuated about our continent. This requires a concerted effort to confront and debunk myths such as Africa being a monolithic entity, rife with poverty and disease, and devoid of innovation and creativity.

Another important step is to showcase the positive and diverse aspects of Africa, highlighting the richness of our continent’s cultures, traditions, and innovations. This can be achieved through storytelling initiatives that promote positive images of Africa, as well as through events and campaigns that celebrate African art, music, fashion, and cuisine.

At the same time, it’s important to address the root causes of negative perceptions about Africa, such as poverty, corruption, and conflict. This requires a commitment to promoting greater social and economic development, as well as ensuring that African nations are able to participate fully and fairly in the global economy.

One way to achieve this is by promoting greater collaboration and partnership between African nations and the global community, particularly in areas such as education, healthcare, and technology. By working together to address these issues, we can build a stronger and more prosperous Africa that is able to compete on the global stage.

As Africans, we have a responsibility to tell our own stories and to do so with pride and consciousness. We must celebrate our culture, our history, and our achievements. We must also acknowledge the challenges we face, but not allow them to define us.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement to change the narrative about Africa. African writers, artists, and filmmakers are using their talents to tell stories that showcase the diversity and richness of the continent. They are reclaiming the narrative and challenging the stereotypes that have been perpetuated for too long.

This movement is not just about changing the external perception of Africa, but also about changing the way Africans see themselves. By telling positive and empowering stories about our continent, we can help to build a sense of pride and confidence in our own identity.

The power of storytelling is not limited to just changing perceptions about Africa. It can also be a catalyst for change within the continent itself. By telling stories that highlight the issues and challenges faced by African nations, we can bring attention to the problems and inspire action to address them.

In addition, storytelling can also be a tool for healing and reconciliation. African nations have a complex history of colonization, slavery, and conflict, and these traumas continue to impact the continent today. By telling stories that acknowledge and address these wounds, we can begin the process of healing and building a better future for all Africans.

It’s important to note that the responsibility for changing the narrative about Africa does not solely rest on the shoulders of African storytellers. The global community also has a responsibility to challenge and change the negative perceptions of Africa that have been perpetuated for centuries.

Western media, literature, and entertainment have played a significant role in shaping the negative narrative about Africa. Therefore, it’s essential that they also take responsibility for their role in perpetuating harmful stereotypes and actively work to change them.

Another important aspect of storytelling in the context of brand Africa is the role of authenticity. In order to change the narrative about Africa, it’s important that the stories we tell are authentic and reflect the true experiences and perspectives of Africans.

This means that African storytellers must be allowed to tell their own stories, rather than having their narratives co-opted or filtered through a Western lens. It also means that we must be willing to confront the challenges and issues that exist within our continent, rather than trying to present a false image of perfection or prosperity.

Authentic storytelling can be a powerful tool for building connections and understanding between African nations and the global community. By sharing our experiences and perspectives through storytelling, we can break down barriers and foster a greater sense of empathy and solidarity.

One of the challenges facing the storytelling of brand Africa is the lack of access to resources and platforms. African storytellers often face limited opportunities to share their work with a wider audience, due to a lack of funding, infrastructure, and visibility.

To address this challenge, it’s important for governments, NGOs, and private sector organizations to invest in African storytelling initiatives, such as film festivals, publishing platforms, and digital media outlets. By providing greater resources and support to African storytellers, we can help amplify their voices and reach a global audience.

Another important consideration for the storytelling of brand Africa is the role of diversity and inclusivity. Africa is a diverse continent, with over 1,500 languages and countless cultures, religions, and traditions. It’s important that the stories we tell reflect this diversity, and that we avoid falling into the trap of presenting a monolithic image of Africa.

We must also strive to ensure that our stories are inclusive, and that they reflect the experiences and perspectives of marginalized communities, such as women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities. By promoting greater diversity and inclusivity in our storytelling, we can help build a more just, equitable, and vibrant Africa.

Finally, the power of storytelling extends beyond just changing perceptions about Africa. It can also be a tool for promoting social and economic development, as well as fostering greater cultural exchange and understanding. By telling stories that showcase African innovation, creativity, and resilience, we can help attract investment, tourism, and other opportunities to our continent.

Another important aspect to consider when it comes to the storytelling of brand Africa is the use of technology. The rise of digital media has revolutionized the way we tell stories and has opened up new opportunities for African storytellers to share their work with a global audience.

From social media platforms to online streaming services, digital technology provides African storytellers with the tools they need to reach a wider audience and connect with people from all over the world. By embracing technology, we can help amplify the voices of African storytellers and showcase the diversity and richness of our continent’s cultures, traditions, and perspectives.

Furthermore, technology can also be used to address some of the challenges facing Africa, such as poverty, inequality, and lack of access to education and healthcare. By telling stories that highlight these issues and inspire action, we can leverage the power of storytelling to promote positive social and economic change.

Finally, it’s important to recognize that storytelling is not just a one-way street. It’s a conversation between storytellers and their audiences, and it requires active engagement and participation from both sides. By encouraging dialogue and feedback, we can foster a greater sense of connection and understanding between African nations and the global community.

The storytelling of brand Africa requires a multifaceted approach that leverages the power of technology, promotes positive social and economic change, and fosters engagement and dialogue between storytellers and their audiences. By embracing these principles, we can build a stronger and more positive brand Africa that reflects the true richness and diversity of our continent and its people.

In conclusion, the power of storytelling is a vital tool in the context of brand Africa, and it requires a conscious and collaborative effort to create positive change. By investing in African storytelling initiatives, promoting greater diversity and inclusivity, and leveraging the potential of storytelling for social and economic development, we can build a stronger and more positive brand Africa.

This is what has motivated Brandhill Africa™ to establish this news portal 30 months ago. We then complimented this platform in December 2020 further by launching the Biashara Services and Products Africa (BiSPA) Conference and Exhibition – which is a series of quarterly webinars which climax into an annual conference held during the second week of December. These are our attempts at developing new positive narratives on Africa to counter a cacophony of negative pedalled against the continent. Yes, we do acknowledge like any other continent, there are challenges to deal with, but we believe there are more positives for us to celebrate and draw inspiration from to empower us to tackle our shortcomings.

We’re unashamedly committed to our cause.

Paying tribute to Johannesburg through music

Jazz music in South Africa emanated in the early 1920s from Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, but it was perfected in Johannesburg. So this Sunday I’ll be paying tribute to the capital city of the Gauteng City Region (GCR) through jazz music. Did you know the GCR contributes 35% to South Africa’s GDP – 5% more than the combined GDP contributions of KZN at 16% and the Western Cape’s 14%. Johannesburg is Africa’s economic hub – Sandton is the home to Africa’s richest square mile. The GCR is Africa’s seventh biggest economy – which means it’s bigger than the economies of 48 African countries. Although South Africa is the third biggest economy after Nigeria and Egypt, it is Africa’s most sophisticated economy – courtesy of the city of Johannesburg.

What’s the relevance of this economic data to music? Everything! Although jazz isn’t elitist, it is a music of choice for consumers in the middle to top LSM categories – these are the audiences who listen to ChaiFM 101.9fm (or stream live from or So join me this Sunday from 17h00 to 19h00 as my jazz programme, “Sunset Serenade”, celebrates Africa’s most metropolitan city, Johannesburg – that I call “Johustleburg” – through music (some of which inspired by the sophisticated and vibrant culture of, and dedicated to, Jo’burg or Jozi) of the Elite Swingsters; Spyro Gyra (United States); Abdullah Ibrahim; African Jazz Pioneers; Dennis Mpale; Shane Cooper and Mabuta; Ali Farka Touré (Mali) and Ry Cooder (US); Miriam Makeba; The Skylarks; Ayanda Sikade; Thuto Motsemme; Thandi Ntuli; Souad Massi (Algeria); Schalk Joubert; Noxolo Seti; Femi Koya (Nigeria); Johnny Fourie; Shabaka and the Ancestors (UK/Barbados); and Skyjack (a South Africa/Switzerland collaboration). This star-studded line-up can’t be missed.

Enjoy your weekend.

Saul Molobi (FCIM)

Publisher, Group Chairman & CEO

Brandhill Africa™

Tel: +27 11 759 4297 

Mobile: +27 83 635 7773

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