In the late 2000’s writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie put into words something that had only begun to coalesce in the minds of Generation Y’ers; the niggling doubt that the Africa we saw beamed into our homes through our precious cable network channels was less than accurate. In the TED Talk “The Danger Of A Single Story” now played over 2 million times on Youtube, Adichie explains how her early influences from Western Literature might have sparked her interest in literature but it also gave her the strong impression that her own lived experiences and realities were not as valid as Western ones. Finding writers like Chinua Achebe, Flora Nwapa and Buchi Emecheta helped change that provide an alternate reality for her, permission if you will, to tell stories that closely mirror her own lived experiences.
Film maker Olu Ososanya is coming to this realization and expounding on it in her latest Youtube, mini-documentary. Ososanya reviews many ‘classical’ Hollywood films about Africa and dissects the common tropes that define these films. Classics like Out of Africa that had no three dimensional characters and treated the continent as a an untamed, savage paradise instead of a complex network of 57 sovereign countries in various states of development, the exploitation films like Leonardo Di Caprio that takes an African crisis and centres a White person as a saviour in the heart of the conflict. He postulates that these tropes have become so deeply ingrained into the ethos of Hollywood regarding films made in or about Africa, that even African filmmakers, when given the opportunity to tell a different, more inclusive story cannot divest themselves of these tropes.
It is interesting to see an indigenous filmmaker introspectively explore these historical injustices and learn from them.
We can too.
Watch “Africa Vs Hollywood” below.
Edwin eats his rice and cabbages. Tweet at him @edgothboy