For a new African narrative

A conversation between Moky Makura, Executive Director of Africa No Filter, and Adama Sanneh, Moleskine Foundation CEO.

Moleskine Foundation
Creativity Pioneers
27 min readFeb 10, 2021


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Adama Sanneh: Hey, how’s it going?

Moky Makura: I’m fine, how are you?

[AS] I’m good. Thank you for being here.

[MM] And it’s great to be here. Thank you for inviting me on.

[AS] Look, let me start with this. Can you tell us a little bit more about the thinking behind “Africa No Filter”?

[MM] It’s a combination and it’s like a natural endpoint for all the things I’ve done in the last 20 years or more. Let me explain just a little bit about what Africa No Filter is. It’s essentially what you call a donor collaborative effort, seven US UK funders are given us substantial funding to do this work, which is about trying to shift the way Africa thinks about itself and the way the world sees Africa. So it’s about narrative change and this whole area of narrative change in the US it’s quite a sophisticated thing. A lot of research is a lot of work that looks at how to shift narratives, narratives about, you know, I mean, there’s a lot of what goes on there, but there isn’t a lot that goes on on the continent.

There’s a lot of talk on the continent. There’s an awful lot of talk about what we need to change the Africa narrative. But if you called out those people and said, what do you mean by that? And what do you actually do to change the narrative or to shift the way people think about the continent, it would be really difficult, hard-pressed to find a solution for it, but that’s exactly what Africa No Filter is set up to try and do.

How do you change narratives about a continent, narratives that have been there for a very, very long time? I mean, the history of how we got to the way the world sees Africa, is the history of this continent. And you don’t change things overnight. So what I’ve been doing since I came on board and essentially this is a start-up, is to figure out what are the key things that we can do that are achievable, because this is a hugely ambitious goal.

Even trying to change the narrative around black people in America, that’s one Country. We’re trying to change the narrative around a continent that’s 54 different countries. That’s like, you know, just it’s a huge number of different groups. So so the stuff that I’ve been doing all my career is really trying to just let people know that there’s another side to the side of Africa that most people think. You know, one of the things that we did quite early on, we did a literature review looking at all the academic writing reports, sort of analysis on narratives about Africa. And there were about fifty-six different documents we analyzed. And the things we found out is that when people write or read about the continent, they sort of find frames that most stories about Africa written around. The first one is poverty. That normally when you read about Africa, there’s a poverty angle to it. The second one is poor leadership. If you think about the stories you read about our elections and leaders and all the stuff that goes on here, a lot of it is around that our leaders somehow are quite bad. Another big piece of it is the conflict. Often you read about the conflict going on in the continent, even when you read about elections, its electoral, you know, election conflict. And there are historical reasons for that. We are a huge number of different tribes, all trying to get on. Another frame through which stories are told is corruption. There’s always some story that, you know, our ministers, our leaders have done something wrong or business dealings have failed. There’s an element of corruption. And then the final one is one that I think has been growing and it’s one that is perpetuated a lot by people trying to help Africa. And this is the one disease. That Africa is a place where we need to increase maternal mortality or reduce maternal mortality. We’ve got to help HIV. We’ve got to fix TB. We’ve got to get rid of malaria, you know, bring all those stories up. These donors who are working in the space, they’re perpetuating that myth that actually is contagious, full of disease. You know you hear about Ebola in DRC and you think that I’m sitting in South Africa and I have Ebola. And all of these sort of framings sort of ladder up to one big problem with the way the narrative about Africa is that Africa is one place, that it’s one country. And that’s a huge challenge.

But out of that, what we actually figured out was that there is three sorts of narratives that I think sort of people think about. But there’s a difference between stories and narratives. And I think a lot of people confuse and conflict the two. Stories ladder up to narratives and narratives of what you think about when you read a series of stories. So I could read three different stories about you. One, that you owe money, two that you beat up your girlfriend, three that you stole money. The narrative about you is that you are dishonest, that you cannot be trusted. And based on that narrative, I will therefore do certain things. I will delete you from my phone book. I will refuse to deal with you. The narratives inform my behavior because the narrative actually is how I interpret it based on the different stories about you that I put together and I decided you cannot be trusted. Same thing about Africa. Stories of poverty, of conflict, of corruption. All of these things ladder up to three key things, three key narratives.

The first is that Africans lack agency, that we have all of these problems that we can’t seem to fix ourselves. Africans are dependent when we do want to fix things ourselves. We always put our hand up and waiting for somebody to come and help us, you need donors funding. We need this. We need investment. We’re not doing this thing on our own. And the third narrative that I think is the most worried one is that somehow Africa is broken. It needs fixing. Everybody comes here with solutions to the so-called problems we have. And one of the most interesting things that I often say, because it really struck me is that one day I was having dinner with a bunch of young, really interesting Ugandans. And one of them sort of said to me that when he was younger, he grew up in poverty, but he said that he was happy when he was a child. He only realized he was poor when somebody told him. And again, that’s the power, the danger of narrative.

They and now you now start thinking, hold on a minute, I’m poor because enough people have told me. Everything I read says that I’m poor. When I look at my life, the fact that I’m smiling, but I don’t have a television, I don’t have access to Netflix and I don’t have an iPhone, therefore, I’m somehow disadvantaged. The world has sold the world one vision of success, and that’s the very middle class, very Western concept. You can be happy without running water it’s a damn pain! You can be happy without full-on electricity, without Netflix. That’s not the definition of happiness. But that narrative, because Africa doesn’t have all of these things, therefore tells us that somehow we are less than people in the West. And that’s the danger of these narratives. And that’s what Africa No Filter is trying to work. How do we introduce different stories that can ladder up to different narratives? And the one thing I do want to be clear about Africa No Filter is really not about good news on Africa. We’re not saying that Africa has no challenges. And I think that’s important because it’s about nuanced stories.

You look at Zimbabwean lives matter. There are horrific things going on in Zimbabwe right now with journalists being thrown in. You know, if you look at the hashtag #lekkimassacre, the end that’s happening in Nigeria right now, that’s horrific. Our police are killing young people.

But you know what? I realize that I want these stories out there, not because it’s sort of, you know, it’s feeding that narrative of a conflict or that framing of the conflict. What it is actually doing. It is challenging that narrative that Africans don’t have agency because it is young Africans that out there that are on the streets that shut down because it started that Zimbabweans lives matter because typically people believe that, well, you know, they do anything. They just sit around the very resilient, you know, we can do things for them at them. But this whole movement, all these, and I think a lot of it came out of two things. One. One was the global appeal of Black Lives Matter and Covid.

The fact that there are people sitting around who are not doing anything Covid has decimated economies on the continent. So this is really not about showing that Africa’s great. Everything’s going well. It’s more about presenting nuanced storylines that show that Africans, yes, they do have agency that Africa is not necessarily broken, doesn’t need fixing, and that we’re not entirely dependent on rich countries in the West.

[AS] I’m wondering, though, where do you start from? What I’m saying, where do you start from? Is narrative have this very strange double effect on the people who received the narrative. So in this case, to create that received the narrative, the dark west, the West in general. But then you have the people who receive and also create part of the narrative that is people of the continent. So there is kind of like this vicious cycle that is created because as you said before then, even people on the continent, you know, and I’m generalizing it, will get affected by the narrative that is created about the continent and vice versa. So there is kind of this vicious cycle. So I’m wondering, in your opinion, where do you start to break this cycle?

[MM] You know, I think the one thing that has become clear to me is that we have to define that narrative because there’s no single narrative. It’s not one. There’s a multiplicity of different ones. But right now it is being perpetrated and spread by people who are not us. And to give you a quick example of that, yesterday I was trying to figure out exactly what was happening in Nigeria. I’m sitting in South Africa. I’m on the continent. The only thing I can do is go to CNN or the BBC to figure out these global news outlets that are reporting for an African audience, but primarily for a global audience. We’re not entirely Africans. And the thing is, I realized that watching them, they are defining how that story is told to the world. That’s a lot of power. That is a lot of power. And Africans have to take that back. When I’m watching the news in the US, Americans are defining how that story is told. Fox News is defined in how the story of Trump is being told. CNN is defining it, but these are US American platforms telling American stories. We need to get to that stage on the continent where we are able to tell our stories and the friends we want to generate the narratives we want and that we’re not there yet. That’s the challenge. So when you say about stopping the cycle, the way to stop this cycle in, some of the things Africa No Filter is trying to do. One is to try and disrupt where you see examples of harmful stories or harmful kinds of narratives that really just don’t reflect what’s going on. Or you see a story that’s not nuanced or a story that’s feeding. And there are lots of examples. And there’s the stuff that we started doing on social media where we challenged some stories. Some stories have been changed. So there’s a role that we as Africa No Filter to want to play almost as a watchdog for narrative because we feel there’s a gap, there is an opportunity there. I think the other two areas where, because we’re essentially a grantmaker, is that we want to put more funding in the hands of the storytellers because I think the challenge with us is that we don’t have the money to build a BBC or CNN, and that’s why CNN is the one telling the story. That’s why BBC actually breaks more stories of innovation and creativity than local stations because they have content covered better than we do as Africa. So it’s really not a case of asking them. But I think one of the things is to try and strengthen media platforms, dissemination platforms, so that we actually have access to stories about content, about our countries, about our people that show innovation and creativity and not wait for the BBC or CNN to do it because they’ve got a different agenda. They’re telling hard news. And hard news seems to tend to revolve around bad elections, conflict, all of the things that feed that harmful narrative. And that’s what happens when you don’t control the narrative. You have to control the narrative. It’s not about one narrative, but you need to control it. And we’re not there yet.

[AS] When we were discussing also previously, I was quite fascinated about your journey, your personal and professional journey. And I watched recently your TED talk that you did a few years ago. And at some point you said that “in order to find your true purpose, you’re going to take something that makes you incredibly angry. And combining with something that you are incredibly passionate about.”

And in the first 10 minutes of this conversation, I can see both of them very clearly. But I’m wondering where this passion and anger came from?

[MM] Yeah, I mean, I’ll tell you what. There was a moment in time that I remember really well. And I was in a cinema and I was watching “Hotel Rwanda” and there was a scene in the film when, you know, things had gotten really bad and they were trying to get all the foreigners out, old Belgian people. So helicopters, chemokines came. I remember that people were fighting to get onto these planes to get out. These were Rwandans as well, and rightly so. The Europeans took the Europeans out and there was a scene where these Africans were left behind. I mean, they were that wealthy Rwandans who wanted to get out. And I remember being so angry at the time in the cinema that we as Africans had created. Well, you could argue about who created the problem, the Hutus and Tutsis.

But we had created that it was black on black violence, black people killing black people. Yet we were still waiting for the international community to come and help us out.

And that happens a lot that we’re always waiting for somebody to come and save us. It’s almost as if we believe we cannot save ourselves. I got so angry because I remember thinking that. Why, why, why? Why is it only the Europeans? Why can’t even Nigeria send something? Why? You know that I mean, I still feel it now because I remember thinking that, you know what? We have to change the way we think about ourselves. We want to start thinking that we are actually capable of creating change. And that’s why when I look at what’s happening in Nigeria with this EndSars and I’m like, yes, go out there and create change because we are the only ones who can do it.

So that moment I remember, I came out, I was really angry and then I have to do a course, it was a coaching course, and you had to coach yourself. And I got to the stage where I realized the one thing I did I like I love writing. I did. I love storytelling. And I realized that you know what? The one thing you can do is start showing examples of people who are the antithesis of this narrative, change-makers on the continent, people who are doing things, people are not waiting for to come and help the people who are not broken. So, I mean, one of the first things I did, I wrote a book called “Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneurs”, where I interviewed African entrepreneurs who I knew about and people didn’t. You know, people thought the world’s greatest entrepreneurs were people like Richard Branson and then Donald Trump. At the time, we had really amazing entrepreneurs who were actually building businesses in much tougher environments than Richard Branson did building businesses in Africa with limited infrastructure, with limited funding. So you can learn from that. So I went around, started interviewing people to ask me, why are you doing this? Who’s paying you? How much money do you want? I’m like, no, I don’t want money. I think that we need to put these stories out there because these people can inspire us as Africans to start seeing that, hey, I can do that. You know, if I mean, like, let’s say who was in the book you wanted to do was in there, like he’s a Nigerian. He set up a business and he passed away. He set up a business in Tanzania. You know, these guys have amazing stories. And at the time when I did the book, business businessmen were kind of our heroes. These were the people we looked up to because I think Africa was really about a successful definition of success with financial success, business success.

So that’s why I started with them. But I realized quickly that I wasn’t interested in entrepreneurs per se. I was interested in their stories.

How did they get from where they started to where they ended up, where they were wealthy and they built a lasting business. They employed people. They created stuff. Because I think their stories, what I thought, what was really important to inspire young people.

So from there, I went on and I did a series called “Living It”, again, which is about the lifestyles of wealthy people. That was the most fun I ever had in my life. I flew around the continent booming and people who, again, have been successful just had great stories to tell, because at the time, often when you saw Africans on television, it was an African with the fly on the face, the begging when not there’s no money, there’s a famine here, there’s a flood here. And again, I’m not saying that that doesn’t exist. It’s not the only story of Africa. And there wasn’t enough focus on bringing up these other stories. So that’s what that film did that to me, that “Hotel Rwanda”. That’s what I came out to do. You know what? You need to be deliberate about kinds of stories. You tell why you tell them and the platforms you put them on. They have been a series like that. When I did that “Living it” series. And people still write to me, oh, when are you going to do that? Must be more than twelve successful Africans because it was a series on the continent. I’m like, well, you know, you go solve them. You know, people have asked me to write another version of the book. No, you go write. But, you know, I put it out there and in the hope that now there’s just there’s more of that. At the time, there wasn’t a lot of that going on.

[AS] But if we explore a little bit because he says something in beginning about the relationship between the difference between stories and narratives, and we look at and the point is that even many positive stories might not necessarily change the narrative.

And to a certain extent, you can also look at it that way around. Many or some negative stories might not change the narrative. And when we go in the diaspora and we say, for example, something the US considering that black lives matter, you know, even the story of a black president didn’t translate into a change of a narrative.

So how can we interpret all of this? What else? What are the other forces? That that you see that can help to change that, because we can put many stories out there, but with not necessarily, we can easily sure that the narrative will change.

[MM]You know, I mean, you make a good point when you use the US president and it didn’t necessarily change the narrative, but I want to ask you, whose narrative do you think had changed? I think Obama being president may not have changed how white people thought about Africans or black people, but it certainly changed what black people thought about what they were capable of. The fact that there was a black person in the White House in America was incredibly inspiring for a lot of black people, even to this day, even me.

I remember when he came in the second time and I was with a chemist in South Africa, and I was really excited to hear that he just come in and I remember the chemist who was white South African, said, oh, we know American policy feels so distant so far away like you can. I said it’s because he’s black. It’s because he’s black. So that narrative around black people, the audience for that actually was black people, primarily because I think to a certain extent, the narrative we started believing that, no, we can never get in there. We’re not good enough. You know, white people are somehow better. They’re likely to be presidents, you know. And I will say that what we are doing at Africa No Filter is actually targeted.

I’m not trying to change what a Trump supporter or Trump someone like Trump thinks about Africa, there is not enough money in the world. But what we can do is influence the way we as Africans see ourselves, because the challenge is the way Africans see themselves is the way the world sees themselves, because of the content we absorb, the things we see.

Do you think about movies where the American action movies, where the only real black character from Africa is the baddie, the corrupt person who’s coming to take money out and is bribing people? That’s what we see.

We actually commissioned or funded some research at the University of Southern California to look at how Africa was depicted in the media in the US. There was very little first of all, there was very little, you know, depicted. And they looked at entertainment media. They looked at something like seven hundred thousand hours worth of television footage to see how Africa was depicted. It was very, very little mentioned about Africa. But what it was, it was typically as Africa, as one place was like, oh, in Africa, it was used flippantly. It was typically negative. The place where we tended to get more coverage was in the news. And when it came to hard news, it tended to be about business or elections and things that were generally not positive. So Americans don’t know a lot about Africa. And to be honest, it’s not that I don’t care what Americans think. I don’t think I can change what an American thinks about Africa. But I know that if we put these stories out if we if we paint a more holistic picture about the continent, about its people, Africans themselves would be inspired. And slowly over time, an American, a British person, an Italian, might change the way they see Africans in the continent. But it’s not one story. And this is why, you know, there’s a bit of tagline. We do it one story at a time. And just to give you an example, I remember in my time there was a series called “Will and Grace”, which I think they come back for another 10 years later. It’s an old series and I can’t stand watching it now, but I loved it. But what that series did for gay people and that it normalized it. Will was gay, Grace was with them. They lived together and it just suddenly normalized what being gay was about. It’s the first time on mainstream television that we saw that actually, they were not terrible people to hide in a couple. You can be out there. And the reason why I use that is that one of the things that we have found out and we’re trying to figure out how we can incorporate this more into our work is that pop culture is probably the most powerful way to change the way people think about issues, other people. And, you know, and the one thing that we do know is that that when it came out in twenty-eighteen.

Wakanda, this fictitious place in the Black Panther movie, was the most talked-about country on Twitter, the year that film came out. Was thefourth sorry, not the most was the fourth most of our country.

And that just tells me that pop culture is such a powerful way of changing the way people think old or dominating what people think. If you can what kinda I mean, people talking and tweeting more about it than they were about Nigeria than they were about Kenya then Ethiopia. So I find it interesting that pop culture is not something we typically fund. And if you look at filmmakers on the continent and you know about Nollywood, it’s probably one of the least funded movie sectors in the world. But it has the potential to change the way people see Nigerians. And it has let me tell you, as an African Nigerian sitting on the couch, that when I go to places like Nigeria and I like that movie, there’s a respect that other Africans have now for Nigerians because they see us in a different light. They see the houses and the cars. And then also Nigeria is not that messed up place that they’ve been reading on in the international outlets that they follow because pop culture has just put a different face on it. And to me, that’s how you change the narrative. Pop culture is is a powerful tool. But also I feel that another way to do it is to just give people evidence of its impact. It’s like the way we were thinking about Black Lives Matter and white people are suddenly thinking that, hold on a minute, you can hang out with black people. For a long time, I’ve seen them. But it’s only now that a lot more white people are actually understanding what it is to be black in America, to experience racism or unconscious bias, where people don’t even realize that being racist or gender issues, when people think, well, you know, oh, really, there are not enough women on our board. OK, let’s try to do something about it. Sometimes just putting it in front of people is enough to create change because you get them thinking about it.

And I think the same thing with a narrative that when you start challenging people on a story, the BBC took down the story because the headline was ridiculous, but they had to be challenged. The New York Post took down an advert they had looking for an East African correspondent because it was just a really badly written, stereotypical, nasty piece of copy looking for for a journalist to write the types of stories that they had already imagined. They took it down. They apologized. And the thing is, each time you pick it up and that’s the role of this watchdog that I think Filter could, you know, is well set up to do. Just letting people know that, no, it’s not OK. It’s just another way. And like I said, it’s not one way of doing things, but there’s a series of interventions by law, people to tell more stories, use pop culture, identify when people are pushing the wrong narrative and yet educate people about narrative.

That’s why we’re doing a lot of research because I think the more research you do, people understand it. Then it becomes a thing, it becomes salient, then it becomes more interesting.

[AS]You know, I’m wondering, though, because it is something that being in a similar sharing part of the mission that you have as Moleskine Foundation, sometimes I’m mesmerized by how often people don’t necessarily understand why this is important in a sense that they almost take it off in like as almost as a matter of principle.

But narratives of stories have a direct impact on the life of people. Maybe. Can you tell us a little bit about this? Which way change the narrative can really impact the lives of people and really changing our potential collective future.

[MM] Let me go back to examples I think are pertinent to the continent. One is “investment” into Africa and the other is “migration” out of Africa. Now, I think these are two big issues that Africa grapples with, that we do need investment. We need organizations, companies, countries to come and invest in Africa, trade with us. The challenges when people in the West, financiers, investors, venture capitalists read the stories that ladder up to those narratives. First of all, they are scared. They think they’re going to lose their money. They think that the place is corrupt. They think that the problems are so massive that, you know what, this business can never work because they don’t understand the environment. And I would love and I’m trying to figure out how we can if we can see a correlation between narratives. What? Believe about the continent and that direct impact on investment, that money did not go through or the cost of this deal, where anywhere else in that world, in the world, that deal would have cost one hundred dollars. But because it’s in Africa, there’s a premium. It now costs five thousand dollars instead of one hundred dollars. There’s a real cost. There’s a real implication to the narrative that that’s one. The other one I mentioned was about migration. You know, there’s I mean, the first thing is to dispel one myth that most of the migrants outside are going around the world are Africans. Actually, they’re not. I think Africa is fifth in the ranking of countries. Any African country, the first African country is fifth on that list. It’s Afghanistan and other countries that are not on the continent. But the thing is that when people start believing young people on our continent start believing in an American dream as opposed to an African dream. They don’t stay, they don’t invest, it doesn’t trigger creativity, they don’t look at innovation. They look at ways to get out. They sit on the street corner trying to figure out how they can make a quick buck to get out instead of thinking, how can I build a lasting business here? That’s what that narrative is. If that narrative tells you that, well, nothing going on in the past and there’s no reason for you to stay around, there’s no hope. There’s no good dream or Ugandan dream or dream. Everything’s happening in the West. You don’t build your own country. You don’t invest your own time, your effort. You don’t stimulate innovation. And, you know, I remember listening to this podcast, and it was the guy who had invented or had started Google Translate and he talked about how he’d done it. He was playing around. He wasn’t created to solve the problem. He was created because he could. And I often find that when people look at creativity on the continent, it’s always about solving problems. You look at some of the biggest innovations we had, it didn’t necessarily solve the problem or tell me what problem is Facebook solving, what problems, which is solving what problem. All of these things solving they were just creating and innovating. And out of that came solutions that the challenge with Africa is that we come in with this problem mindset. We come in with something that’s broken that needs to be fixed. And we immediately sort of put a timeframe around creativity. And you’ve got to come up with a solution to feed a billion people. You’ve got to create around, you know, lifting people out of poverty. It destroys creativity. And that’s because we have this problem. Africa is broken and it can’t just be created because you want to create a new Facebook. No. Got to fix and feed people. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but I’m saying that that mindset also stars from creativity on the continent because you are allowing people to just create.

[AS] We arrive almost at the end of our conversation. As you know, we always ask the guest to propose three words that are connected to their idea of Creativity for Social Change. And you choose three words that are: African, Agency, and Stories.

I think that we can see why you choose these words, but maybe can you give us a few words on each of them? And why you choose them?

[MM] The first one was African because I think there’s so much around social change movements that are pertinent to this continent that if you’re working in the social change space, there’s so much in Africa that we need to move forward, like the movements that are happening right now on the continent. And I think being an African, you’re at the center of it. So with the world is looking for voices and doers, change-makers from the global south. We’re sitting in this space. I think it’s a huge opportunity. So being an African right now, I don’t think there’s been a better time to be an African. The world is focused on us. We are the next opportunity. We’ve got this world, some people say a ticking time bomb, a liability asset. A population of eight hundred million by 2050 of young people. It’s five countries with people who are under 15, 50% of five countries where the population is under 15. You know, we’ve got this pool of people, of talent, of consumers, and we’ve got to figure out what to do with it. And so for me, being an African, it’s just a lot of space to do a lot of thinking. It’s not like, oh, OK, we’re going to go to catch the train, go to work and come back. Anything could happen on the continent. There is just so much potential. So African, that’s one word.

The second word is really Agency. You know, I talked about this lack of agency and why I’m excited to see these movements that are happening in Nigeria, one in Zimbabwe, this one in Namibia right now. This is South Africa, one gender-based. There are a lot of movements that happened that sort of came out of social media. And it’s it shows Africans have Agency that we actually can dictate what the agenda is that you know, there was always this thing that young people are not political and young people are not political. They don’t vote because they don’t believe that voting, which is a traditional way, people of my generation have tried to elicit change. We know it doesn’t work in a lot of African countries. It doesn’t work. So they’re taking to social media now. They are creating movements there. They are expressing their political side in a different way. And people of my generation and political leaders have to understand that. So the sense of agency, I think, has been we’ve been empowered by the technology around us that you can create a movement online. And some of the amazing stories I was hearing about how this EndSARS campaign started like everything was online, people were sending money, bitcoin, you know, just sending the money to different applications. They were organized. Everything was done online. No single leader. They never appointed a leader because typically when there’s a leader, Nigerian government, or whatever, the government would go arrest that one person from the jail, end the story. There was not one single person because everything was done online. Right. So that that whole sense of agency, I can see the cleverness because that agency says, you know what, there’s hope for us. We have agency. We can dictate the future we want.

And the last thing is Stories. Stories are important because you’ve told stories. I’ve told stories. That’s how we communicate. That’s how we form opinions about each other.

And I think without stories, then we’re dealing with dry facts and we know we know the facts, and data do not change behavior. Look at America. No matter how many lies. And we can count on CNN regularly count how many lies Trump tells in a day doesn’t matter. The point is they like the stories. He tells the story that he’s managed to tell people that he is the person who can make America great again. That’s the power of storytelling. I mean, I don’t want to end Donald Trump, but I think that you know, there’s a lot of stories that are still coming out of this country. And we just have to get better about telling them. We have to get better about making sure that they are in the right places because right now there is a lot of storytelling going on, but we are not in those public spaces. And even to your point about the number of content on Wikipedia, that are I still quite a lot being less on Africa and more on Paris. I mean, we’ve got to get our stuff in the right places. And so those words me: Stories that we got to tell stories, but to get them out, that’s really important. We got to have Agency and that we are African. That’s the most important thing.

[MM] That’s the most important thing in the right place.

[AS] I like to thank you so much. It was great.

[MM] Thank you very much for your time and for giving me the platform.

Moky Makura was born in Nigeria, educated in England, and has lived in London, Johannesburg and Lagos. She is the Executive Director of Africa No Filter, a donor collaborative focused on shifting the African narrative. Prior to that she was the Deputy Director for Communications Africa at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where she was responsible for building and managing the foundation’s reputation on the continent. In 2017 she took on an interim role as the foundation’s Country Representative to South Africa responsible for government relations and internal program coordination. Before joining the Gates Foundation, Moky worked as Communications Director for the Tony Elumelu Foundation in Nigeria. Prior to that, she was a well-known TV presenter, producer, author, publisher, and a successful entrepreneur in her own right.

Moky holds an Honours degree in Politics, Economics, and Law from Buckingham University in the UK. As part of her passion to present a positive image of Africa and showcase its heroes and achievements, she created one of the first websites to serve as a repository of positive facts about the continent. Visit the website at: Moky started and runs the first storytelling networking event for women called Herstory Joburg.

She serves on the advisory boards of three non-profits including Junior Achievement Africa and the Houtbay Partnership. Moky was recently appointed to the board of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

Watch Moky at: (Living it promo) (TED Talk on telling the African story)

This conversation was recorded as one of the Episodes of “Creativity Pioneers”, a podcast by the Moleskine Foundation.

As the Moleskine Foundation’s vision is to inspire a new generation of creative thinkers and doers, this podcast aims to equip all of us with new perspectives and unconventional ideas to amplify our creativity, critical gaze, and imagination.
We engage in conversations with unique creative minds from all over the world, to explore and expand our understanding of creativity and its transformative power.
Each episode sparks from a selection of 3 keywords, chosen by our guest speakers. They serve as a compass, helping to orientate the conversation through art, entrepreneurship, literature, philosophy, politics, and social activism.

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Creativity Pioneers

The Moleskine Foundation is a non-profit organization that believes that Creativity and Quality Education are key to producing positive change in society.