Monday 28 May 2012

Nima Elbagir, Judge 2012, International Correspondent for CNN

Whenever I travel around the continent or when I meet fellow Africans elsewhere around the world and they find out I’m a journalist I’m invariably asked the same question; why does the news out of Africa always have to be so unrelentingly bad?
It’s not.
Even just at CNN we have three separate Africa feature strands and so do many of our competitors but I can understand why people still feel this way.
For years it felt like there was only one narrative when it came to Africa and it was not a narrative that we as Africans had any control over.
That has changed as more and more Africans have picked up pens and cameras and taken ownership of their stories.
Reading through the Caine Prize entries really brought home to me what that ownership has brought with it; a conviction that our stories - whether the real or the imagined - have value.
I said at the beginning of the judging that I was looking for stories that were informed by an "Africanness" but managed to avoid the cliched and predictable.
Nebulous I know but I found that and more.
None of these stories carried the baggage of Africa the unfamiliar or Africa the “exotic”.
None relied on the niche or the novel to carry the reader with them. Instead there was a real confidence that their voices – unwatered down to pander to a ”western” palate- were compelling enough, that the truths universal.

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