At the beginning of 2014, we?highlighted the contributions and achievements of African women who made a positive impact on the continent and in the Diaspora in their various spheres of influence. Looking back on the past year, there?s no denying that the African media experienced quite an impactful refreshing. Where in years past, the continent spoke with fragmented voices, the entrance of social media into the conversation enabled a cohesive and powerful voice, uniting the African opinion.
Social Media played a major role in uniting all on issues related to the continent. For one, we all became very well acquainted with the #Ebola hashtag. Even though the Ebola outbreak of 2014 has still not reached a positive conclusion, especially in West Africa, the widespread use of social media to communicate the severity of the Ebola outbreak greatly enhanced much needed awareness. To put this all in context, the last Ebola virus which occurred in Uganda through January 2013 barely had a social media impact. This was partly due to a lower social media participation in Africa, combined with the very important fact that there were only six reported human cases in the former incidence. The current outbreak has had the largest impact of all time, with over 20,000 reported cases and 7,588 deaths. We also saw the launch of African agency led platforms, Ebola Deeply and Africa Responds as well as the contributions of some of the continent?s top musicians in addressing the epidemic. It has been a ground breaking year for public health, and even as affected nations begin to move into recovery, the voices of the media will be just as important in transmitting relevant content and information.
In an age of rapid media distribution of information, atrocities such as Boko Haram, a sect whose very name alludes to its vilification of education, have been unable to evade the public eye. The African media followed the sect as they infiltrated numerous communities and places of worship, and slaughtered a countless number of innocent individuals in their campaign of destruction. The violence continues with no clearly defined rationale or reason other than a vaguely articulated and mostly irrational desire to establish a ?caliphate? with them at the helm. Twitter handles such as @BokoHaramWatch will continue to provide 24/7 monitoring of the terrorist activities.
The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag is probably the biggest African social media export. On April 15 2014, a convoy of vans, trucks and buses made their way towards a girls? boarding facility at a secondary school in northeast Nigeria. The large vehicle?s capacity blatantly divulged a preempted effort to kidnap a large number of girl children for deplorable reasons. That night, over 200 girls were kidnapped from their school, most of whom have never been heard from again, the terrorist kidnappers maintaining that the girls have since been sold off or married. Although the social media campaign has not led to the absolute return of the kidnapped Chibok girls, it brought the campaign to the forefront, making it truly global. U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama has been seen supporting the movement. As one of the leaders of the BringBackOurGirls campaign, Nigeria?s Oby Ezekwesili mentioned, the Chibok girls are a symbol of how we, as Africans, will define ourselves going forward as a society. Be rest assured that the voice of the media will scream even louder in 2015, as the nation continues to demand accountability and action.
Of course with the lows have come the highs, and we would be remiss if we didn?t highlight media personalities who we think you should be on the lookout for the minute the clock strikes midnight. While we can clearly agree that the continent has produced many talented film directors and producers, we witnessed African influenced media achieve a new prominence. The past year brought about the critically acclaimed movie, Belle, written by Misan Sagay and directed by Amma Asante, and was inspired by the 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle. Award winning director, Amma Asante certainly turned heads for her outstanding work in directing the motion picture, and she is certainly one to watch as we move into the year. Nigerian film producer and director, Kunle Afolayan is already kicking the year off on the right note as viewers and critics continue to applaud him on October 1, a depiction of the circumstances surrounding colonial Africa?s struggle for independence. Written by Tunde Babalola, October 1 won the award for best feature film at the 2014 Africa International Film Festival. With a number of other films and documentaries slated for release in 2015, major players will continue to be followed, and listened to, in 2015.
In 2014, we continued to witness the rise of established talk shows including Moments with Mo, the first syndicated daily talk show on African regional television, hosted by Nigeria?s Mosunmola Abudu. Other show host greats include South Africa?s Alan Khan and Nigeria?s Funmi Iyanda but of course, if this ex-beauty queen?s title as Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria wasn?t enough to make Nike Oshinowo a house hold name, 2015 may just be her year. In 2014, Oshinowo officially launched her talk show, Late Night with Nike Oshinowo, and the country looks forward to taking a seat on her couch.
We cannot forget creative influences like South Africa?s best-known cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro also known as Zapiro, who put out his latest collection DemoCRAZY: South Africa?s Twenty-year Trip, which quite humorously records the South African journey over the last two decades. The controversial artist will continue to be celebrated in 2015, even as he continues to illustratively ?go there?. Comedian Trevor Noah will be waving in the New Year as a contributor on Comedy Central?s late night satirical show, The Daily Show, a role he began in December 2014, where he will be taking on a wide variety of issues. We have a feeling that he will continue to be as hilarious as ever.
In 2015, we fully expect the African media to continue its growth trajectory with an added emphasis on global relevance. We expect that new African voices will also be more influential authorities in all spheres, as the continent continues to tell its story.
Cheers to a great 2015!
The Voix?is a creative platform that empowers the voices of global storytellers. For more information, visit: Thevoix.com.