Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Filmmaker aims to explode Africa 'bombs and bullets' myth

By Sheena McKenzie for CNN
updated 12:31 PM EDT, Wed July 25, 2012
Rev heads put their wheels to the test at the annual 'Rimz and Beatz' car and bike stunt show in Abuja. Rev heads put their wheels to the test at the annual 'Rimz and Beatz' car and bike stunt show in Abuja.
HIDE CAPTION
Burning rubber
Polo power
Loud and proud
Morning glory
Blushing beauty
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ambitious documentary hopes to dispel bleak stereotypes of Africa
  • Filmmaker Nosarieme Garrick was shocked to find most people 'ignorant' about Africa
  • 'My Africa Is' project needs £71,500 funding, with £3,500 already raised
  • First episode looks at Nigeria's inspiring Photowagon collective

African Voices is a weekly show that highlights Africa's most engaging personalities, exploring the lives and passions of people who rarely open themselves up to the camera. Showtimes: (all times GMT) Friday : 0730; Saturday :1430; Sunday : 0800; 1730 Monday : 0930, 16:30; Tuesday : 0430.

(CNN) -- Africa is poor, corrupt and rural. Right? Think again. A team of young documentary makers is hoping to burst the myth of Africa as a dangerous backwater by shining a light on some inspiring projects taking place on the continent.

When filmmaker Nosarieme Garrick hit the streets of New York to ask passersby: "What do you know about Africa?" the overwhelming response was "not a lot."

"It's very big, very hot. Most of Africa's impoverished. I'm pretty ignorant to Africa," admitted one man.

"I know about some human rights violations, some wars and genocides," was the bleak answer from another woman.

It was a dismal reflection of many Western stereotypes surrounding Africa -- one that Nosarieme is determined to change.

Watch: Fighting Hollywood stereotypes

My Africa is: hopeful

The 27-year-old hopes to launch an eight-part documentary series 'My Africa Is' -- showcasing the continent through the eyes of its insiders.

"The four things that come to mind when people think of Africa are population, problems, poverty, and promise unfulfilled -- headline media reports on the continent. But that's not the whole story," Nosarieme, originally from Nigeria and now living in Washington, said.

Meeting up with Botswana's 'metal heads'

The ambitious project would cover 13 cities across sub-Saharan Africa. Organizers are trying to crowdsource funds through the Kickstarter website and hope to start filming in October if they reach their target.

Life after being a high court judge

"Between the 1980s and now the image of famine and wars has been ingrained in people's minds. That's a narrative that's going to be hard to shift," Nosarieme said.

Secrets to start-up success

"That's not to discount the fact that this stuff does happen. But what I wasn't seeing was the solutions."

See also: South African ballet dancer confounds stereotypes

Nigeria the troubled oil giant

First up in the documentary series is Abuja in Nigeria -- a country that until the election of President Goodluck Jonathan last year had largely lurched from one military coup to the next.

This is Africa's most populous country and its leading oil producer. Yet few in the country have benefited from the oil boom with more than half the population still living in poverty.

See also: Congo's designer dandies

The President was recently forced to sack bosses from state-owned oil company NNPC amid corruption allegations

Then there's the ongoing violence between Muslim and Christian groups in the north, with even Pope Benedict XVI weighing in to call for an end to the brutality.

Put simply, when it comes to Nigeria, the headlines aren't great.

Getting on the Photowagon

When people think of Africa it's population, problems, poverty, and promises unfulfilled. But that's not the whole story
Nosarieme Garrick

But according to Nosereime, that's only half the story.

"Nigeria is going through a turbulent time," she admitted. "But there's a rising youth who are trying to educate each other."

Indeed the trailer for the first My Africa Is show, the focus is on Photowagon -- a Nigerian photography collective "on a mission to show the giant of Africa through the lens."

Launched in 2009, their powerful images paint a very different image of Africa.

It's a well-rounded collection that captures the frivolity of everyday life, such as market scenes and football matches. But doesn't shy away from some of the more familiar and gruesome notions of Nigeria such as terrorist attacks and military clampdowns.

The 'other' Nigeria

Photowagon co-founder Aisha Augie-Kuta says her mission is to "conquer sports photography as a northern Nigerian female" -- a bold statement for a "very conservative" country.

But the gung-ho 33-year-old appears undeterred as she takes 'My Africa Is' to a Nigeria vs Argentina football match in the capital Abuja.

Traditional dancers and hip-hop singers entertain the crowds during half-time, while ecstatic fans hug each other with each goal.

It's an image of Nigeria that couldn't be further from the grim headlines.

Aisha admitted that if you believed the Western media, you wouldn't step foot inside Africa.

"They see us as a continent without hope," the mother-of-three said.

"For Africans, we see hope on the street everyday. But on the news you don't see that. It's always about the negative stuff.

"Instead, what we see is a lot of poor children dying from malaria or polio. If you listened to the news everyday you'd have no hope from the bombings or corruption. Don't get me wrong, it is happening. But it's not a constant. It's not the Nigeria we in Lagos or Abuja are living in."

See also: South Africa's underground youth culture

The 33-year-old said the country had come a long way since she was growing up under a military regime in the northern state of Kebbi. Aisha remained optimistic about democratic change in the west African country, particularly for women, but was also realistic about its pace.

"There's a lot of opportunity and hope as to where we can be," she said.

"But at the same time there's a lot of uncertainty about how much change the government can bring in."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
African Voices
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
Australia's Tim Cahill appeals to the linesman after a disallowed goal during the Group B match between Chile and Australia at Arena Pantanal on June 13, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil.
Kenya's national football team may not have made it to the World Cup Finals in Brazil -- but one man will be there for his African nation.
updated 6:44 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
African contemporary art is thriving, says author Chibundu Onuzo.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Wegkruipertjie, a short film playing at the Durban International Festival
From Ghanaian rom-coms to documentaries celebrating 20 years of South African democracy, festival-goers are spoiled for choice at this year's Durban Film Fest.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Kalibala with one of the children she supports.
In 2010, Ugandan journalist Gladys Kalibala embarked on a mission to bring attention to her country's lost and abandoned children.
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
Sunset at Camps Bay with one of Andrew van de Merwe.
A trip to the beach is usually for lounging in the sun. But for Andrew van de Merwe, the sand stretches in front of him as an enormous blank canvas.
updated 8:40 AM EDT, Tue June 17, 2014
Esther Mbabazi, Rwanda's first female pilot
Esther Mbabazi wheels her bag towards the airstairs of the Boeing 737 sitting quietly on the tarmac at Kigali International Airport.
updated 7:22 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
Jun 1978: Filbert Bayi #42 of Tanzania rounds the bend during the 5000 Metre event at the AAA Championships in Crystal Palace, London.
He's smashed world records and revolutionized running during his career. And yet the name of Filbert Bayi has largely been forgotten.
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Nelson Mandela
Adrian Steirn and the 21 ICONS team have captured intimate portraits of some of South Africa's most celebrated. Here he reveals the story behind the photographs.
updated 6:41 AM EDT, Fri May 9, 2014
As the old adage goes, "If you want it done right, do it yourself" -- and for social activist Rakesh Rajani, those words have become an ethos to live by.
updated 6:50 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
As the head of Kenya Red Cross, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders at the Westgate shopping mall.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
David Kinjah njau and Davidson Kamau kihagi of Kenya in action during stage 2 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race.
He's one of Kenya's premier cyclists but David Kinjah's better known as the man that trained Tour de France champion Chris Froome.
updated 8:34 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
A Silverback male mountain Gorilla sits in the dense jungle canopy on the edge of Uganda's Bwindi National Park in this 29, January 2007 photo. Bwindi, or the 'Impenetrable Forest' as it is known to many tourists is home to the majority of Uganda's rare and endangered mountain gorilla population where plans are underway to habituate two more gorilla family groups to counter growing demand from a flourishing gorilla trek tourism business, a major source of income for the Uganda tourism Authority. AFP PHOTO / STUART PRICE. (Photo credit should read STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)
Meet Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, the woman from Uganda trying to save critically endangered mountain gorillas before its too late.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Jean Claude Nkusi
In Rwanda, young genocide survivors are forming "artificial families" to help each other financially and emotionally.
updated 5:42 AM EDT, Mon May 19, 2014
The President and founder of the organisation 'Femmes Africa Solidarite' (Women Africa Solidarity), Bineta Diop.
Senegalese human rights activist Bineta Diop reveals why she is willing to risk her life to help women in Africa.
updated 6:14 AM EDT, Tue April 1, 2014
Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
Each week African Voices brings you inspiring and compelling profiles of Africans across the continent and around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT