Africa is the hot topic these days; everyone is trying to get a bite of the pie. This interest has led to an increase in the number of groups reporting on happenings on the continent, yet the same one-dimensional, stagnant (read, negative), and often inaccurate narrative of Africa continues to flood traditional or mainstream media. We are constantly presented with more information than we have time to process, and it is beginning to have a profound impact in our daily lives. When we do have time to peruse the news, the lack of balanced, well-written and realistic reporting on Africa is glaring. There are quite a number of factors that affect this, but the majority have nothing to do with an absence of good writing or interest in reporting.
Like us at Circumspecte, a number of individuals and platforms have grown tired of the current trend and have seized the power of the internet to create alternate media entities that go beyond journalism; not just in style and detail, but also in how they breathe life into diverse African narratives and link up the continent. In no particular order, here is our pick of websites where you can access insightful, interesting, and nuanced news and information about Africa and its 54 countries.
Always on the go and can’t seem to keep up with what’s happening on the continent? Teresa Clarke and her team at Africa.com have been carefully selecting news and travel insights since 2010 so you won’t have to. All you need to do is sign up to any (or all) of Africa.com’s five newsletters and have the most relevant news and headlines – from international and local news outlets – delivered in time for you to start your day. According to its management, the website boasts an impressive audience of over 5 million views each month, and features business and financial news alongside cultural and political features from across the continent. All about quick, well-structured insights? Check out the lists section of Africa.com’s website.
This site’s double entendre title is enough proof of its unorthodox approach to disseminating information on Africa and the Diaspora. The alternative media platform started by Sean Jacobs looks at more than what we would traditionally consider as news by presenting balanced perspectives on culture, arts, film, music, among others. The in-depth analysis from a large collective of rigorous and intellectual writers on happenings might wear an academic gown, but offers an objective (and sometimes satirical) hand to walk the reader through somewhat complex and sensitive happenings. Africa is a Country has managed to provide relevant commentary that smudges the boredom of traditional news and academic writing, whilst hammering on the most relevant details. Employing a minimalistic layout, the website’s submenus and tags help guide you through an impressive breadth of original content. The use of satire is a hallmark to Africa is a Country’s on-going success and testament to the creative journalism it offers.
Dynamic Africa is one of the most complete destinations on the Internet for information on Pan-African art and culture. Since 2011, Funke Makinwa and her budding collective of curators and writers have shared their phenomenal appreciation for the arts by carefully handpicking stimulating and progressive music, film, paintings, installation and performance art that carry the beautiful soul of our continent. The website is a great place to inspire or be inspired and to discover favourites through reviews and eye-catching galleries, while its weekly calendar of art events happening around the world enables readers make informed decisions on what to attend. True to its name, Dynamic Africa is active on social media; frequently interacting with artists and audience and offering live reports via Twitter from certain events. Often mistaken as not being newsworthy, Dynamic Africa presents Africa’s mercurial multi-dimensional culture and explores the continent through the sheer variety and brilliance of its art.
If Pan-African lifestyle, entertainment and news are your cup of tea, look no further than Face2Face Africa (F2FA). Started in 2011 by power couple Boateng and Sandra Appiah, F2FA has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in Pan-African news. The US-based media group leverages technology to connect people of African descent and provide positive, largely Diasporan perspectives on African lifestyle, entertainment and other issues related to the continent. Hop onto their YouTube channel for an impressive collection of videos and interviews with some of the continent’s trailblazers. F2FA also hosts a number of feature events geared at networking and showcasing elements of the continent’s diverse range of cultures. Notable among them is the F.A.C.E. List Awards, which celebrates influential Pan-African pioneers and IAAPA, an annual professional networking mixer. Include their strong social media presence and it’s clear that F2FA’s offerings of news and lifestyle events make staying informed more than just another thing on your to-do list.
The African Diaspora is a very significant part of Africa, yet there always seems to be a disconnection of sorts between the two, most likely originating from a lack of understanding. UK-based people-of-colour media collective Media Diversified attempts to bridge this divide by providing insights, analysis and commentary on events, people, culture and policies that have a profound influence on Africans. Independently owned and controlled like most platforms on this list, Media Diversified’s content is not only poignant but also relatable as it uses human stories to add meaning to headlines and statistics. Its resource value lies in how they promote online content and draw attention to the importance of ensuring that people of colour are fairly represented in mainstream media publications. Media Diversified’s coverage and growing influence on the media landscape has resulted in a forum dedicated to pertinent but often neglected issues.
Want your news order to go? Check out intuitive and practical news media platform Quartz Africa, which provides business insights and highlights related to the continent. By creating a mobile friendly platform and engineering ‘traditional’ up to date news specifically for mobile phones and tables, Quartz (the parent platform) capitalizes on the amount of time we spend swiping and scrolling away. The layout of the website allows the reader’s eye to drift easily and interact seamlessly with the words and visuals. Despite their primary focus on economics, business and finance, their detailed analysis on market trends lend to other facets of life on the continent. Subscribe to the Quartz Daily Brief for a roundup of key business and African news and insights. and indulge in a refreshing, innovative and mobile-oriented news experience.
Business, policy, innovation, life – four very broad, but overlapping areas that characterise Ventures Africa’s range of nuanced, balanced and exciting stories on the African continent. Think well-organised and accurate reportage on breaking and developing news stories. VA’s Daily Brief summarises all breaking news stories, while its #WhatsTrending tag shows the most circulated news on social media – you won’t miss a thing. What’s more, Ventures Africa also has a lot of content dedicated to analysing or highlighting unique people and events and organised beautifully on its website. The tone employed for writing is very engaging and conversational, and with the extensive coverage, you are bound to find relevant news from practically all 54 African countries.
News has evolved beyond how we traditionally know it to be as a summary of events of the world, read out without much emotion, context or meaning. It is refreshing to have platforms like these working hard out of their own volition with little or no funding to improve the range of African narratives and to help foster pan-Africanism and understanding.
What do you think of our suggestions? Other noteworthy news platforms we should know about?
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.