african_sunsetPromoting a Positive Image of Africa Abroad
Africa is poorly served by the mass media, which focuses almost exclusively on the bad news, thus creating a widely accepted narrative of a continent in a constant state of crisis. The ‘Aid Industry’, too, feeds on selling negative and outmoded stereotypes of Africans as helpless victims of endless wars and constant famines. Even some of Africa’s strongest advocates well-known politicians and artists, give the impression of being engaged in a messianic mission to save Africa from its people.

But this narrative of Africa as a land of hopeless, hapless victims is a far cry from the Africa missionaries and religious have come to know and love through years of experience of working for and with our communities in different geographical locations.

This is an Africa seldom mentioned in the media, the Africa of immense beauty, of open spaces and luminous skies, the Africa of ordinary people who humble us by their stoicism, selflessness and exuberant delight in company. This is not the Africa of helpless victims, worthy only of pity. It is rather the Africa of song and dance, of laughter and celebration, of energy, creativity and resilience. It is an Africa that can teach us a lot about what it means to be human about reconciliation about achieving Justice and establishing Peace despite many images to the contrary, and remind us of values that are fast disappearing from the developed countries of the world. The people of Africa must become more central to the narrative of Africa that is propagated abroad, Religious and International Missionary Institutes are ideally situated to assist this pprocess.
Fr. Kieran O’Reilly, SMA Superior General October 2009.  -    Kieran O Reilly is now Bishop of Killaloe.