Reclaiming Africa narrative in the AI age


By embracing the power of oral tradition, and leveraging technology to convert content into text Africans can amplify their voices. FILE PHOTO | POOL

Whenever "African stories" is mentioned, we often reminisce about the cherished moments when our grandmothers would regale us with traditional tales.

Likewise, boomers can recall the immense value and knowledge gained from these stories.

However, as generations progressed, the tradition of storytelling gradually faded away, replaced by academic pursuits that left us longing for the familiar voices of our grandmothers.

Nevertheless, with advancing technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Africans can reclaim the art of storytelling and retell their own narratives.

While AI can amplify diverse voices and democratise knowledge, it also threatens African narratives.

With only a limited number of African stories available online, outsiders are more likely to shape the continent's history, perpetuating stereotypes and misconceptions.

Therefore, it is in Africa's best interest to seize the opportunities presented by emerging technologies and media outlets.

The continent is experiencing a digital revolution, with increasing internet penetration and a growing number of tech-savvy individuals.

This provides a powerful platform for reclaiming the African narrative and amplifying African voices globally.

To effectively reclaim the African narrative, it is essential to focus on cultural aspects, innovations, historical landmarks, and remarkable individuals who have made a significant difference in our communities, countries, and the continent.

Regularly telling such stories using various technologies can instil confidence and trust in Africa's rich heritage.

Moreover, it will help generate valuable data for African stories, ensuring their preservation and dissemination.

Throughout history, external perspectives have overshadowed or distorted African stories, primarily due to colonisation, Eurocentric education, and limited access to media platforms.

Unfortunately, this has resulted in a need for more understanding of African heritage among young Africans.

Retelling African stories involves shining a light on the often-overlooked rich cultural heritage. Using AI, Africans can showcase diverse traditions, art forms, and rituals.

Additionally, Africa's forgotten heroes and heroines can be reintroduced to the world through AI, inspiring future generations with tales of resilience and empowerment.

However, retelling African stories requires collective efforts and collaboration across the continent and various sectors.

Governments, educational institutions, media organizations, and technology companies must work together to create platforms that amplify African voices.

Supporting local content creators, establishing digital archives, and investing in AI technologies prioritizing African narratives are crucial.

These efforts will ensure that African stories reach a global audience, contributing to a more accurate and inclusive portrayal of Africa.

In this digital age, the power to shape narratives lies in the hands of Africans.

By reclaiming our history and using it to preserve African cultural heritage, we can unearth the stories of forgotten heroes and heroines, instilling a sense of pride and connection within the continent.

In addition to leveraging emerging technologies, traditional storytelling methods still hold immense value in retelling African stories.

Many narratives have been passed down through generations via oral tradition, preserving the essence and authenticity of African heritage.

Oral interviews can capture these stories directly from the source, ensuring their accurate representation.

Furthermore, advancements in technology enable the conversion of oral interviews into written text, preserving and sharing the stories in a format accessible to a broader audience.

Individuals also have the opportunity to contribute to the online content landscape by writing blogs and articles and sharing personal experiences, insights, and perspectives on various aspects of African culture, history, and contemporary issues.

A comprehensive body of African stories can be created by combining oral interviews with written contributions.

However, more than technology is needed. It must be a powerful tool in capturing and disseminating these narratives, ensuring that African voices are heard, and future generations have access to multiple perspectives.

By embracing the power of oral tradition, leveraging technology to convert content into text, and actively contributing through blogging and writing, Africans can amplify their voices, create valuable resources, and enrich the representation of African stories in the digital economy.

Through these collective efforts, Africans can reclaim their narrative, strengthen their cultural heritage, and shape a more accurate and inclusive portrayal of Africa.

The writer is Kenya’s Ambassador to Belgium, Mission to the European Union, Organization of African Caribbean and Pacific States and World Customs Organization. The article is written at a personal level.