Slice Up, the association that wants to change the image of Africa in the media
The Slice Up association, sponsored by actress Aïssa Maïga, intends to train bloggers in digital journalism so that the continent’s news is relayed by those primarily concerned: Africans themselves.
In November 2016, Elsa Miské, consultant and trainer in digital strategies, and Nicolas Baillergeau, freelance reporter, fly to Nouakchott. For a week, they provide professional training to nine Mauritanian journalists, at the invitation of the French Embassy in Mauritania. The result is the production of three web reports and the birth of Faces Mauritanie, a video platform. The two partners intend to reiterate in early 2018, in Lomé, Togo. But, this time, on their own. They therefore launched an association, Slice Up, intended to carry their initiative.
“The idea is to train journalists in digital tools and allow them to professionalize for free. We mainly think of smartphones. While in journalism and blogging, the use of smartphones has become more democratic, it remains to work on mastering the tool and all that goes with it: video lighting, work around sound, etc. », They explain. “In Nouakchott, we worked with fairly heavy equipment such as cameras, but for our next training, we are relying on a means of production that is much more accessible on a daily basis. ”
Aïssa Maïga, daughter of a committed journalist
To sponsor their operation, the duo called on actress Aïssa Maïga. “It made sense, given her personal history,” says Elsa Miské. “Her father worked for Africa-Asia, a magazine co-founded by my grandfather. I knew that her approach was sincere and that we were touching on important issues for her. Aïssa Maïga is the daughter of the Malian journalist Mohamed Maïga. As for Elsa Miské, she is none other than the granddaughter of Mauritanian intellectual and politician Ahmed Baba Miské and the daughter of director and writer Karim Miské.
Aïssa Maïga explains: “If I accepted to be the sponsor of this project, it was for the intelligence of Elsa Miské’s approach. She was very convincing. And then, like me, she has a very personal relationship and experience with Africa. “The actress, who once dreamed of being a journalist, also welcomes an initiative led by two people who are far from fantasizing the continent.
A crowdfunding campaign was launched in June in order to raise the funds necessary for the smooth running of the training, ie the sum of 10,000 euros. Among the ten participants, we find a geographer-graphic designer, an application developer, an architect-journalist or even a lawyer keen on social networks. Eclectic profiles selected with the help of one of their contacts and partner on site: data journalist and analyst Richard Folly.
Claudy Siar and Soro Solo in support of the project
In support of this fundraiser, the two founding members of Slice Up produced a web series titled Africa in the Media. The program sees ten personalities, including Aïssa Maïga, give their point of view on the image of Africa conveyed by the Western media but also on the relationship with the media in the countries of the continent. “These are people with different backgrounds, skills and feelings who express themselves,” says Elsa Miské. A plurality of voices that we can only salute, vis-à-vis the somewhat simplistic title of the web series (thought to be used as a hashtag: # AfricaDansMedia).
Thus, when the journalist Soro Solo evokes the opportunist arrival of the major French media on the African continent, the host and producer Claudy Siar questions the future of the media in Africa, the journalist Rokhaya Diallo questions the denomination “specialist in Africa », Julie Owono, head of the Africa branch of Internet Without Borders, assesses the impact of blogging and WhatsApp or the economist and writer Felwine Sarr examines the question of audiovisual content broadcast in local languages on the continent.
Music producer Binetou Sylla, playwright Dieudonné Niangouna, philosopher Nadia Yala Kisukidi and singer-writer Blick Bassy also share their analyzes.
The Western Media’s Perspective on Africa
However, it is indeed the look of the mainstream media on Africa that revolts Elsa Miské and Nicolas Baillergeau. According to them, the continent continues to be presented as one and the same entity, always through the same clichés: poverty, corruption, war, famine, terrorism, etc.
Reporter Nicolas Baillergeau says, for example, that one day, when he paints a portrait of an entrepreneur in a country on the continent, he is asked to bring in a white person so that the French viewer can “identify”. He refers to another channel, in which the emphasis of the African protagonists of a report was at the heart of the concerns. Examples of this kind, the reporter has plenty and does not hide his exasperation. Also, with Slice Up, the duo intends to provide a solution to end this paradigm.
After Togo, Elsa Miské and Nicolas Baillergeau will head for Rwanda. And next November, they will return to Mauritania, again with the support of the French Embassy. “We are going to launch Mapp Up, a geolocated content platform”. From the open-source OpenStreetMap mapping tool, reports or portraits in Wolof, Poular, Soninké or Hassanya, with French or English subtitles, signed by Mauritanian bloggers and journalists, will be offered to the entire community of “mappers. As soon as they select a location on the interactive country map.
“It is not a tool designed for Westerners but for Mauritania and its diaspora. We hope to be able to extend it to the whole continent ”. In English, slice up means “to cut” or “to share”. Elsa Miské smiles: “For us, the web is a huge cake and everyone is entitled to their share. “