Perceptions of Africa

Marisa Ranieri, a Tanzania volunteer departing this summer, has been keeping a detailed blog on her journey so far, her inspirations, her fundraising efforts and her excitements as she prepares to head off to Africa to teach. Here we highlight one of her recent, and incredibly important, blog posts looking at perceptions of Africa. Thanks Marisa! 

A major debate that is going on right now is the 'Western perception' of the African continent, and the media biases that have resulted. It's common to hear news stories and articles about the familiar tropes: starvation, famine, 'un-modern' lifestyles, war, poverty. Ignored are stories about unprecedented African-led economic growth, the rise of cities, the widespread use of technology, and peaceful and prosperous communities.

First featured on BBC News, I wanted to share these pictures with you all, as well as the accompanied captions, to show the complexities of the continent. All photographs were selected and captioned by Kenyan artist Jepchumba, who runs the African Digital Art Network for a BBC News online feature.

If we think back to the days of Dorthea Lange - she showed a side of America never before discussed, perpetuated, or even imagined by the American people. No one wanted to face the realities of the dark side, it was better to gloss over the many social issues that can't be resolved. It's understandable to not what to see the dark side, but when speaking about Africa, how can we deny seeing the light side?

At the end of the day, stereotypes are complicated, messy, and always easy to disprove.

Lucky for us, the most beautiful things in life are complicated.

Are you interested in seeing the true Africa for yourself? It's not too late! The deadline for our year long program is June 1, 2012. Click here for more information and to apply, and don't forget to keep yourself updated on Marisa's journey at www.tanzania365.com

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