So I stumbled on a post by UNICEF on their Instagram page on the 6th of February where they posted a photo of an Asian little girl carrying her younger sister on her back. I saw this photo and I was filled with smiles, especially with the caption which was “Someone to share your smile with. Someone to lift you up…” like who wouldn’t smile at that?
The next photo that was shared shocked me. Same posture but this time with African kids. Why was I shocked? Well, while the child used is African, the expression was not promotional, once again putting Africa in a bad light.
This picture was captioned “Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo”
Now some people will read this and say they’re only showing what they captured and cannot edit the photos to be different, but guess what? they could’ve used another photo rather than put up a photo that continues to push the suffering narrative about Africa that is popular with people telling the African stories. They could’ve also used a photo of a smiling African child, but they decided to use one that tells the stereotypical story of war and poverty in Africa.
Why am I complaining about this photo?
Trust is, I also asked myself this question so I started searching if February 6th, which happens to be the day it was posted was Children’s war/poverty day (if there’s anything like that), I came up with nothing. Same search result when I searched for what is happening in Congo. So is it that they can not look for an African child carrying her sibling and be happy about it rather than use the photo of this little girl who is more concerned about wrapping her arms round her little sister behind her than the careless lens hungry for her worst expression to keep in his archive as a masterpiece?
For me, this looks like a negative representation of Africa intentionally done by international bodies and these representations need to stop. If they can’t tell our stories well, let them leave us to tell it ourselves.
And to say they even have photos like this with them?