Filmmaker Billy Kokorwe has embarked on an international campaign intended to promote the spread of positive images of the African continent in the Western media.
Officially established in January of this year, the ‘Positive Africa Image Campaign’ will see Kokorwe travelling to parts of the United States and Europe to gather support for more television and film studios to produce material that portrays Africa in a positive light.
Earlier this month, Kokorwe appeared on the Washington-based television station, Voice of America (VOA), for an interview on the station’s magazine programme ‘In Focus’ and explained the campaign’s objectives.
Following that interview, Kokorwe travelled to the United Kingdom and met with several key stakeholders from prominent organisations, including Katie Martin, a representative of the NGO ‘ONE’, co-founded by the musician and activist, Bono, and Ama Ozowuri, coordinator of seeafricadifferently.com.
However, his most significant discussion was with the Commissions Editor of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Maxine Watson, who expressed interest in commissioning a series of films, produced by Africans that portray Africa in a positive light.
Kokorwe is now back in Botswana and is in the process of networking with other filmmakers who have produced or are interested in producing relevant material; he plans to expand his search by attending upcoming film festivals in both Kenya and South Africa.
The independent Director/producer feels he is well placed to spearhead the campaign as he has himself produced several films that explore the progressive side of the continent.
His latest film is a documentary about the career of Botswana’s second president, Sir Ketumile Masire, in which international statesmen such as Tony Blair and Kofi Anan praised the former president for his leadership qualities.
Kokorwe has also made films about Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama, and the former South African president, Thabo Mbeki.
“People will always be interested in bad news but I feel if we have more material being produced, especially by Africans ourselves, which highlight the positive achievements of our leaders and communities, then the Western world will have to take notice and we can change the narrative from one of nothing but gloom and doom,” Kokorwe says.
However, Kokorwe does emphasise that the aim of the campaign is not to gloss over all the shortcomings and make Africa seem perfect but rather to tell a more balanced story.
“It’s always good for people anywhere in the world to interrogate the governance of their leaders and the media is always a good vehicle to do that but in the case of Africa, the Western world need to be exposed to more of our success stories for the tale of Africa to gain balance,” he adds.
More information can be found on the campaign’s official website, paicampaign.org.