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African grant maker collaborates with UK, US funders to change African narrative

THE African No Filter (ANF), a South African based donor partnership has announced a collaboration with Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Comic Relief towards changing the negative narratives about Africa.

Africa No Filter announced the collaboration on Tuesday, September 15, noting that the new funders have joined existing partners including Ford Foundations, Bloomberg, Mellon Foundation, Luminate and Open Society Foundations to fund the same project aimed at influencing how the world sees Africa and how Africa sees itself.

According to ANF, the funders have made commitments to a collaboration of a minimum of two years to capitalise on the programs.

Moky Makura, the ANF Executive Director said the drive towards the set up of ANF is the lack of commitment from Africans about changing the African narrative.

“Many Africans speak about the urgent need for narrative change but there is little evidence of a deliberate and coordinated attempt to do this work. This is exactly what Africa No Filter was set up to do, so I am pleased to see new funders coming on board to support us.

“The Hilton Foundation and Comic Relief, like our existing funders, are progressive partners who understand that the success of their work on the continent is underpinned by our ability as Africans to believe in ourselves and not in the stereotypical harmful narratives that bring us down,” said Makura.

ANF said stories of poverty, poor leadership, corruption, conflict and disease are the constant stories told about and within the continent, leading to narratives of an Africa, and a people that are broken, lack agency and are in constant need of help.

The organisation noted that although the continent has been highlighted as an emerging destination for investment, with high GDP growth rates, an increase in peaceful elections, stability, falling poverty and the spread of technology, there is more to be done to ensure their breakthrough.

ANF stated that as an organisation, its priorities would include building and connecting with other organisations that share the same goal and position as ANF as a watchdog for narratives about the continent.

The donor collaborates further highlighted that its priorities also include bringing new and more contemporary stories by supporting storytellers in the arts, culture and media sectors.

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Shaheen Kassim-Lakha, director of strategic partnerships at the Hilton Foundation, said the foundation is thrilled to be part of the movement to change the negative Africa narrative.

“We are excited to be part of this movement supporting contemporary, contextualised and nuanced storytelling about Africa. We believe ANF’s research, grant-making and advocacy around narrative will lay the groundwork for increased optimism and confidence in Africa’s future. This will only unlock better outcomes for the programs we fund across the continent,” said Kassim-Lakha.

Dilhani Wijeyesekera, Head of Influence at Comic Relief added that “Storytelling is at the core of the work we do to at Comic Relief, and we are keen to support and learn from Africa No Filter’s approach and insights. We know that existing narratives about Africa can be harmful and we are proud to support an initiative like ANF that is tackling these issues.”

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