The Africa Narrative was originally established in 2018 as a research-led project aimed at improving public knowledge of Africa. TAN partnered with the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California for its inaugural research, Africa in the Media released in 2019. A seminal study funded by the Ford Foundation, its findings put in stark relief the negative stereotypes of Africa and Africans depicted on US television.
Prompted by the findings of the AIM study, YouTube partnered with TAN and The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), to launch a short film competition aimed at finding and showcasing new storytelling talent based in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The winners were flown to Los Angeles in February 2020 to participate in a day of workshops, production training, networking with the entertainment industry, and a red-carpet screening at PAFF, the largest black film festival in North America.
Two of the winning directors of the competition went on to achieve greater success with their films. Street Dancers by Nick Wambugu (Kenya) was made into a BBC feature documentary film, and The Letter Reader by Sibusiso Khuzwayo (South Africa) was acquired by Netflix.
Seeing up close the tangible impact of supporting African creatives and bringing their storytelling to a global audience served as a turning point in broadening the mission and scope of The Africa Narrative.
In July 2022, after a two-year hiatus, The Africa Narrative relaunched as a 501(c)(3) public non-profit singularly dedicated to strengthening capacity in the continent’s creative economy and amplifying the global visibility of African cultural soft power.