Botswana filmmaker Billy Kokorwe’s Positive Africa Image Campaign has just completed its tour of New York City and Washington DC.
In New York the highlight of the campaign was a Vox Pops filmed on location in Time Square Brooklyn and Long Island. Random interviews were conducted with Americans of all races, background, occupation and origin.
The Vox Pops question posed was: What are the first things that come to mind when you think of Africa? Kokorwe reports that the most common answers were “corruption’, “oppressive dictatorial governance’, “civil war’ and “lazy needy people’.
Furthermore, most participants didn’t even know there was a country called Botswana. An overwhelming majority thought there was too much negative publicity about Africa and very little information, let alone positive stories about the continent. The Vox Pops, which forms part of a short film for the campaign, will be followed by structured interviews featuring Africa’s internationally celebrated political leaders, musicians, actors, models, enterprenous, media personalities and others.
In Washington DC Kokorwe was interviewed by Voice Of America TV producer Paul Ndiho for the programme, In Focus. Says Kokorwe: “This allowed me to express the goals of Positive Africa Image Campaign, which includes advocating for less negative news coverage about African issues as there are too many images of starving Africans, children with protruding bones, documentaries about African savages in villages and religious propaganda purporting to provide aid to poor Africans. In Focus was viewed by millions of Americans and Africans.’
The Positive Africa Image Campaign then moved on to London where Kokorwe began the first leg of his European campaign by holding one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders including Katie Martin of “ONE’, an NGO co-founded by famous rock star Bono of U2, which is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organisation that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. “ONE’ works closely with activists and policy makers. The meeting was highly productive and resulted in an agreement to explore ways of working together to achieve a common goal.
Kokorwe had a similar meeting with Ama Ozowuru of Comic Relief, a British charitable organization that has launched campaign website; www.seeafricadifferently.com which promotes positive stories about Africa.
The filmmaker and activist also met and held intensive discussions with Maxine Watson commissioning editor BBC Television.
Kokorwe is due to return to the UK and other European countries to continue the campaign.