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15.09.2020 Diaspora (USA)

New US, UK funders to join African narrative collaborative

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14th September 2020, Johannesburg, South Africa; The UK’s Comic Relief and the US-based Conrad N. Hilton Foundation are the latest funders to join Africa No Filter (ANF) – a donor collaborative working to change harmful and stereotypical narratives about and within Africa. Both organisations join existing partners Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, Mellon Foundation, Luminate and Open Society Foundations to fund an ambitious program – influencing how the world sees Africa and how Africa sees itself.

All seven funders have committed to a minimum of two years to capitalise the organisation which is led by recently appointed Executive Director Moky Makura, who left the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to head up the initiative. Despite the Covid-19 Pandemic, which has seen many funders divert resources to rapid response initiatives linked to the pandemic, Africa No Filter’s funders remain committed to the program.

“Many Africans speak about the urgent need for narrative change but there is little evidence of a deliberate and coordinated attempt to do this work. This is exactly what Africa No Filter was set up do, so I am pleased to see new funders coming on board to support us,” said Moky Makura. “The Hilton Foundation and Comic Relief, like our existing funders are progressive partners who 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 harmful narratives that bring us down.”

Stories of poverty, poor leadership, corruption, conflict and disease are the enduring stories told about and within the continent, leading to narratives of an Africa, and a people that are broken, lack agency and are in constant need of help. Although the continent has been highlighted as an emerging destination for investment, with high GDP growth rates, an increase in peaceful elections, stability, falling poverty and the spread of technology, more needs to be done to ensure these stories break through and that Africa is presented in a more nuanced and contextualised way that reflects the continent today. With a clear but ambitious mission, Africa No Filter’s priorities include:

  • Research to unpack narratives, quantify impact and elevate our advocacy because there has been limited analysis about prevailing narratives – good and bad, what stories feed them, where they come from and how widespread they are.
  • Build, support and connect the ecosystem of organisations working to shift narratives
  • Crowd in new and more contemporary stories by supporting storytellers in the arts, culture and media sectors
  • Disrupt harmful narratives and position ANF as the watchdog for narratives on and about the continent

Both the Hilton Foundation and Comic Relief believe strongly in the power of collaboration; that funders working together can yield better results. They are also aware that the scale of the challenge and ambition around narrative change work in Africa needs multiple supporters hence their commitment to joining the collaborative.

Shaheen Kassim-Lakha, director of strategic partnerships at the Hilton Foundation, said, “We are excited to be part of this movement supporting contemporary, contextualised and nuanced storytelling about Africa. We believe ANF’s research, grantmaking and advocacy around narrative will lay the groundwork for increased optimism and confidence in Africa’s future. This will only unlock better outcomes for the programs we fund across the continent.”

Dilhani Wijeyesekera, Head of Influence at Comic Relief added; “Storytelling is at the core of the work we do to at Comic Relief, and we are keen to support and learn from Africa No Filter’s approach and insights. We know that existing narratives about Africa can be harmful and we are proud to support an initiative like ANF that is tackling these issues.”

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