Johannesburg - Pop culture has the biggest influence on African youth, followed by the US and Europe.
These are the findings of the “Who is Influencing Who? Unpacking Youth and Influence in Africa” report, which investigates Africa’s influence on the world, its influences on African youth, and how dominant narratives about Africa shape the youth’s perception of the continent.
The report said the main influences on respondents were pop culture (57%); social media (27%); family and friends (44%); religion (74%); and their communities’ cultural practices (54%).
The report interviewed 4 500 people aged between 18 and 35 in Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe in April, 2021. Random sampling was used to reach 500 respondents in each country.
The report revealed that 57% of the respondents said pop culture has the biggest influence, followed by the US and Europe (45%), and politicians (31%). In terms of the African regions, pop culture had the strongest sway in Kenya (87%) and Zimbabwe, while West African respondents (65%) perceived the US and Europe more influential.
Even though politicians are considered influential, with 58% of respondents saying politicians were the most influential people in their country, only 11% of interviewees said they were influenced by politicians. The report said the only time respondents said they were influenced by politicians was when making voting decisions (51%).
The report further asked young Africans what they believed to be the dominant negative stories about Africa in movies. A total of 54% said that common negative narratives were about crime and corruption, followed by narratives set in underdeveloped cities (41%), and those depicting uneducated and unexposed Africans (33%).
According to the report, 71% of respondents believed they could challenge negative stereotypes about the continent on social media.
In terms of the impact on the world’s perceptions, 75% of respondents said the stories created a negative perception of Africa. This hasn’t stopped 60% of African youth from loving their countries and continent or 73% from believing that African countries, particularly South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt have a global influence.
According to the report, only 18% of respondents indicated they would rather live in the US or Europe, while only 20% believed that there are fewer opportunities on the African continent than elsewhere.
Moky Makura, executive director at Africa No Filter, said: “This is a must-read for any organisation working with and in Africa, because it unpacks what influences the largest demographic on the continent. Sadly, African youth haven’t escaped the impact of negative stereotypes, but the good news is that it hasn’t defined their perceptions, and that has a lot to do with social media and the agency it gives them.”