Photograph — BCG

It’s amazing how time flies; we are at the end of another year. As a media organisation, so much happened in our core areas of interest this year – business, policy, and innovation – and the Ventures Africa team covered some of these events with insightful interviews and analysis.

However, while navigating our personal creative spaces this year, we came across other interesting stories, some outside our organisation’s area of interest, that we wish we had written. Hungry for good reads? Here is a roundup of some of these stories:

The divestment delusion by Yemi Osibanjo (Foreign Affairs)

“After decades of profiting from oil and gas, a growing number of wealthy nations have banned or restricted public investment in fossil fuels, including natural gas. Such policies often do not distinguish between different kinds of fuels, nor do they consider the vital role some fuels play in powering the growth of developing economies, especially in sub-Saharan Africa,” writes Yemi Osibanjo. 

This article by the Vice-President of Nigeria questions the action of some wealthy nations and development financial institutions clamouring for a rapid divergence from fossil fuel investments and an eventual halt to it. Osibanjo argues that curbing natural gas investments in Africa will do little to curb carbon emissions in Africa but much to hurt the continent’s economic prospects.

Natural gas is a tool for lifting people out of poverty in many African countries, so its role as a transition fuel for Africa cannot be overstated.

  • Adekunle Agbetiloye – Staff Writer

What it takes to keep a bar in business during a pandemic by Dan Stone (California Sunday Magazine) 

“Why in the hell did I decide to do this?”

Dan Stone, through his story, takes the reader on a journey through his rollercoaster experience of running a bar. He uses real-life experiences to mirror the bitter-sweet journey of owning a small business. He narrates how the initial excitement and optimism of running a business can quickly be overshadowed by pain and doubt.

I love this story because it brought an economic problem to its most relatable form. It also doesn’t have a fairytale ending — it doesn’t even have an end per se. Like many small business owners, the journey is still uncertain. Stories like this are what I like to write. It’s devoid of hype and represents the everyday person’s life.

  • Oluwatosin Ogunjuyigbe – Staff Writer

Is Hollywood ready to stop stereotyping Africa? by David Jesudason (BBC) 

“Western cinema has a long and continuing history of relegating Africans to the sidelines in films about Africa, using the continent as a backdrop for white characters’ journeys of self-discovery or moral reckoning … If films have centred on African characters, they have done so predominantly in stories of distress and suffering,” writes David Jesudason.

I never watched the movie “Coming to America 2”, because I believed it was going to be another poorly executed stereotype of Africa as opposed to a valid representation. In this feature, Jesudason talks about how western media portray Africa. He cites some films that attempted to change this but wind up depicting Africa as a country rather than a continent, and as a monolithic system rather than a diverse one.

Jesudason manages to express and address the concern of Africans who are tired of being stereotyped. The article leaves me wondering why Africa is still not represented in its full potential and why African “flaws” are promoted and humourised by Western media. 

The world needs to experience stories that represent Africa in her entirety, which includes her talent, diversity, and beauty. The continent is big and diverse. And like Jesudason said, there is no excuse for any filmmaker to portray her as a “single story”.

  • Suotunimi Orufa – Intern

How governments go after protesters using social media by Ariel Davis (Rest of World)

Globally, social media has become an important tool for protests. In Latin America and the Caribbean, digital protests have helped expose inequalities in the region and made broader social demands, including ending violence against women.

Protesters use messaging apps, hashtags, and other creative formats to organise, participate in demonstrations, and call for action. It is also common to find people use social media to document police brutality in real-time, enabling accountability and reparations to the victims. 

In this piece, Vladimir Cortés argues that government interventions on social media platforms can limit people’s ability to publish content, restricting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. This can be through internet shutdowns, surveillance, content removal, censorship, and restrictive laws.

  • Ishioma Emi – Staff Writer

40 years without Robert Nesta Marley, the apostle of One Love by Simon Kolawole (TheCable)

I first became aware of Bob Marley through my dad, who always played his songs on his stereo. I was young, but I could recognise good music. Marley’s rhythm was soothing, and the drumrolls were captivating. But I knew very little about the lyrics of some of his popular songs I had enjoyed as a child and had no idea what they meant. Simon Kolawole echoes my sentiments. 

He writes, “I enjoyed Marley’s music but understood not much about his message and knew pretty little about the man. For instance, I used to think that ‘No Woman, No Cry’ meant women were the source of tears. If there were no women, there would be no tears. But as I grew older and paid attention to the song, I heard the lines, ‘O my little sister, don’t shed no tears/No woman, no cry … So dry your tears, I say’”. 

“He was asking the woman not to cry — in Jamaican patois. I would later understand that the song highlights the toils of Jamaican women, his widowed mother inclusive, who struggled to fend for their families. [All this while] the message was lost in translation to me,” Kolawole writes.

Kolawole educates readers on the reggae king by reliving his life and experiences in this beautifully woven piece. In about 4500 words, I learned everything I needed to know about a legend I never met.

  • Adekunle Agbetiloyecurator, Stories we wish we wrote in 2021.

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