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Repositioning Nigeria, Africa’s media narratives

By Yinka Olaito
Africa’s media landscape has come of age. Given where it all began, we cannot but say there have been a couple of improvements when compared to what obtains today. The only challenge is that the media narrative is still being dominated and controlled by the advanced or western media.

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Africa’s stories had not enjoyed the kind of attention one expects. The simple conclusion one can draw is he who pays the piper dictates the tune. Africans had long awaited a change in its media narrative but it is obvious not much can change until Africans take the drivers’ seat of their own media.
Africa Foundation For Young Media Professionals, a nonprofits media skill development, is doing a pioneering work in this business of changing the media narrative in Africa.

This piece therefore brings to bear some of its challenges. Despite these challenges its sees a new day and more determined to pursue its goals. The aim of documenting this is to serve as knowledge reservoir for others.
It is no longer news, Africa Foundation For Young Media Professionals’ major objective is focused on the next generation of media practitioners across Africa beginning with Nigeria. Students of media and communications need a new perspective, direction in their training.

‘Gown and town’ experience must be balanced if Africa must achieve significant progress. In doing this ,there must also be a level of hard work on what we have now: present crops of media professionals, so they can help in the process of shaping the right future for Africa’s media landscape.
While the nonprofits ultimate operations’ environment is Africa with Nigeria as the starting point. Here are some of the challenges faced in Nigeria.

Government’s commitment must change. if media narratives in Nigeria and Africa at large must change. Government at all levels need to change its commitment to funding media infrastructure, policy and engagement. When speed is required, a carefree commitment will not suffice.
Media training institutions’ leadership, at present our observation and experience with media institutions where students are trained show some of the leaders: teachers, lecturers, faculty or whatever names they are called must embrace a new level of attitude.

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It is obvious, the challenges in our learning environment can be overwhelming. But it is clear leaders in media training institutions can also do a lot of damage to the quality of future media practitioners that are being trained now.

Leaders of media training institutions need to see the big picture despite the challenges. Other stakeholders, like ours, are partners in progress. The moment some hear a nonprofits wants to help in building capacity of the students, the first impression is such nonprofits had gotten funding from somewhere and therefore they need ‘a piece of the cake’ otherwise the efforts will be frustrated.

Another known challenge is the learners’ attitude. Here we still have a long way to go. Attitude of many learners towards developing right skills necessary for the future can really be discouraging. Quite a number of media and communications students do not see any need to put in all the efforts required. Many need to be pushed. There is also a sense of entitlement we feel from some these students.

Some of the students have the mentality the society owes them so much before they can be what they have to be. They must appreciate real success begins with a level of personal sacrifices.

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Unstable school calendars, 70% of Africa Foundation For Young Media Professionals’ activities are focused on the next generation of media and communications practitioners who are Students across campuses in Nigeria and Africa. Progress is hampered by unstable school calendars, strike actions by lecturers and other important associations that can help us move faster.

Anyone or organization coming into this field must be ready and prepared. When schools are on strike, making progress will be difficult. In few instances, when school resumes after strikes, exams will commence immediately. This implies a longer waiting time. We do hope as we move around Africa, we can achieve more.
Funding, of course a good stew is a product of good investment. Not much can be achieved without it. Since Africa is a huge market, not many nonprofits can move faster without a level of support.

A good advantage Africa Foundation For Young Media Professionals has is its board of advisors who are some of the best and known media professionals in Africa. These advisors are spread across all the major regions. They have unalloyed support and commitment to this initiative in their various countries across Africa. So supporting the initiative will be a win-win for any organizations.

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But despite the challenges, Africa Foundation For Young Media Professionals is poised to make the difference. Its first long term goal is 2025. By that time, it hopes its engagement will have produced a few Pulitzers winners and ensure Africa’s media landscape has become a reference for the world to copy.
#Yinka Olaito is a communications and media specialist.

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