Ask Dayo Olopade Anything: First World Problems Perceiving Africa

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 31 2014 @ 2:57pm

In our first video from Nigerian-American journalist Dayo Olopade, author of The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africashe lets people in the First World know that when it comes to trying to help Africans, they can keep their old t-shirts:

The poster she refers to is here. In a followup, Dayo responds to the routine conflation of “Africa” with the 54 unique countries that make up the continent:

Dayo Olopade is a journalist covering global politics and development policy, and has written for The New RepublicThe RootThe New York Times, and many other publications. She’s also a Knight Law and Media Scholar at Yale University. Here’s how Dayo explains the reason she wrote The Bright Continent:

Growing up in the United States, I was always surprised at how little the world thinks of Africa. What news is covered consistently dwells on governmental failures and troubling poverty. Development and aid work is likewise often framed around the question “What can the Western world do for Africa?” not “What can Africa do for itself?”

This book changes that. Over the course of three years, I made my way through seventeen countries and saw time and again that what Africa can do for itself is tremendous. Africa is a place teeming with commercial opportunities and technological innovations, but these vibrant, authentic, and economically significant interactions are happening between individuals and decentralized groups, not between governments or conventional institutions. In The Bright Continent, I argue that the best, and quite possibly the only, way to effectively address the globalized challenges Africa faces is to harness the tools that Africans are already using to solve these problems themselves.

Kirkus calls it a “refreshingly hopeful argument.” In the next video from Dayo, she criticizes the myopia of the Western media when it comes to Africa and then shares the kind of success story the media often misses:

(Archive)