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On TikTok, she demystifies clichés about Africa with humor

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“How do you have internet when you live in huts?, “Do you have buildings?”. “Do you have water?”. Faced with the clichés that appear in the questions they receive by the dozen under their videos, African TikTokeurs have chosen to respond with humor. Our Observer Charity Ekezie, a Nigerian who has nearly 400,000 subscribers on the app, shares what prompted her to make these videos.

Internet access, water, the presence of refrigerators or beds in accommodation, some Internet users have an almost prehistoric image of Africa, and do not hesitate to display it in their question to TikTokeurs of the continent. , broadcast all over the world thanks to the algorithm of the application. These remarks come mainly from America or Europe. “Most of them are joking or racist, but some are actually really serious,” says Charity Ekezie, a Nigerian in her thirties.

Last January, on her TikTok channel, she began to respond to it in her own way.

I tried another approach, responding in a funny way when people ask me if we have water in Africa.

One day I was with my cousins ​​in my house in the village where I sometimes go for Christmas. I then said to myself: “we have to do a TikTok, something sarcastic, let’s dress up as young girls and go to the river in the village to make a video, on which we write write: “when they say that Africa has no water”. Then I said to myself: “I should write in caption: ‘when they say that Africa has no water'”. And the reaction of people has been amazing.

The video quickly reached 17 million views and garnered 2.7 million likes. And added other prejudiced comments to which Charity is happy to respond:

Not everyone understood the sarcasm in the video: I just meant that we literally had water. People said “the water is so dirty, how can you drink this water?” but the truth is that it’s just a river.

I think the most absurd comment I’ve received is from someone who said, “Do they have iPhones and internet in Africa?” I was like: “I filmed these videos with a phone and posted them on the internet!”

There are so many ignorant comments in my viral videos. In fact, for part of the video, I had to turn off the comments, there was too much racism.

Some of them weren’t serious, they just wanted to be racist, make jokes, but there were a few: one girl told me she didn’t mean to be offensive, but she didn’t know not that we had telephones in Africa and I had to explain to him that, yes, we did. Then she asked me: “where do you buy them?”.

“Humor is the best school”

I think humor is the best school because I noticed that people refuse to learn when you’re serious, I don’t know why they do that even if they learn, they forget it. But when you use humor they will never forget it.

Like Charity, other TikTokeurs prefer to respond with sarcasm and second degree to this type of comment. Ugandan model Angella Summer Namubiru, 4 million subscribers, for example, is very often confronted with it and prefers to play with it. On one of her videos, we see her drinking from a large leaf, in another saying that she is sleeping in trees.

Before signing up for TikTok in early 2020, Charity had no idea there were such prejudices about the African continent. Among the videos that shocked her and pushed her to make the content she offers today, a “joke” that often came up on Tiktok: users filmed themselves filling a cardboard package with water, wrote on the top “For Africa”, and pretended to send it.

This video shocked me… In fact, that’s one of the reasons why I started making these kinds of videos. I don’t know how long I’m going to make these videos, but at least I’m going to do my best to make sure people realize this is stupid, this is offensive. Obviously we have water in Africa, I’m not going to say that everyone in Africa has access to drinking water, but a good number of us don’t have problems with water, so you can’t use a small number of people and judge a whole continent, there are also people all over the world who don’t have access to clean water, even in the United States, even in Europe, you don’t don’t judge them because of that because the continent is big enough.

Fight against a misunderstanding of Africa that fuels clichés

Since she launched this type of video, Charity Ekezie has received a lot of positive responses around the world, which motivate her to continue.

People’s reactions [ sur Tiktok] were very positive. Many come from the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States, but also from part of Africa or the United States. I like being able to talk to them. Some even tell me that they didn’t know that Africa was a continent before seeing my videos…

Personally, I think that even if they haven’t had a proper education in school, we are in a time where we can see everything we want thanks to the Internet… We are in 2022, we no longer live in deserts, technology is everywhere… They should rather research the progress we have made as a continent.

I’m really glad millions of people have seen my content on TikTok because it shows that the people I’m trying to reach are getting the message.

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