However, not all foreign reporting has been bad. Reuters Africa, which has a bureau in Nairobi, has been providing nuanced and accurate coverage of the election. The BBC has provided informative analysis of the candidates and issues that were at stake in this crucial election. But not so much for the cash-strapped US media, where many outlets simply cross-posted or rewrote wire stories under different headlines, each one catchier than the next.
But as more Africans start to use social media, it is playing an increasingly important role in allowing them to partake in conversations about their future, and to protest unfair representations.
To be sure, African countries face several challenges to democratization. Ethnic tensions continue to manifest in different forms. Corruption, nepotism, and electoral rigging still undermine Africa’s aspirations toward democratic governance. But Africa also faces other challenges, like heightened rural-to-urban migration, population growth, growing youth unemployment, increased demand for better education, and other opportunities. It is the convergence of these and many other factors that inform electoral tensions. That’s the kind of context we, as journalists, should be sensitive to. A little bit of humility and awareness of the intricate realities on the ground will help us avoid what Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie calls, “the danger of single story.”