Meet TikToker using humor to break down stereotypes of Africa

“How do you have internet when you live in shacks?” “Do you have clean water?” African TikTokers tackle these questions and stereotypes every day in the comments on their videos. In order to combat these clichés, many of them decided to respond with humor. Our Observer Charity Ekezie is a Nigerian woman who has over 400,000 followers on the app. She told France 24 monitors how she deconstructed misconceptions about Africa in her videos.

Some people online have a quasi-historical view of Africa as a place where there is no running water, no internet connection, refrigerators, or beds. These people have no reservations about sending these questions to TikTokers in Africa, whose videos are shared all over the world, thanks to the application’s algorithm. Many of the comments, often from Americans or Europeans, are racial jokes or insults, Ekezi said, but others are serious.

Last January, the 30-year-old Nigerian woman started answering these TikTok related queries with humor.

I decided to try another method, by responding in a funny way to someone who asked me if we had water. So, one day I was with my cousins ​​in my house in the village. And I was like, “Let’s make TikTok. Let’s do something sarcastic. Let’s dress up like virgins and go to our village river and make a video.” And I thought, ‘Wait, we should write on this video: ‘When they say Africans don’t have water.’ And the reaction was crazy.

The video quickly reached 17 million views and garnered 2.7 million likes. More people commented with other questions about Africa, which Charity was happy to answer.

Not everyone understood the sarcasm in the video: I just meant we had water in the literal sense of the word. People used to say, “The water is very dirty, how do you drink it?” But the truth is that it is just a river.

The most ridiculous comment I got was someone who said, “Do they have iPhones and internet in Africa?” And I was like, “I shot these videos on the phone and posted them online so…”

There are a lot of ignorant comments in my viral videos. In fact, for one video, I had to turn off the comments. There was a lot of racism.

“Humor is the best way to teach” Humor is the best way to teach because I’ve noticed that people refuse to learn when you’re serious. Even if they learn, they try to forget it, but when you use humor they will never forget it.

Like Charity, other TikTokers prefer to respond to this type of comment with sarcasm and humor. Ugandan model Angela Summer Namubiro, who has 4 million followers, often encounters this type of comment and would rather play it over. In one of her videos, she drinks water from a large leaf, explaining that this is how Africans get their water. In addition, she says that she sleeps in trees.

Misunderstanding Africa fuels cliches: Since she started posting these kinds of videos, Ekezie has received positive feedback from people all over the world, motivating her to keep going. She says that people from the UK, US, Europe and even parts of Africa have told her that they have learned a lot from her videos. Ekezi says she loves to talk to them and share knowledge – such as the fact that Africa is a continent, not a country.

I think people abroad have this misconception about Africa because they don’t know better. So, yeah, I guess they’re just ignorant and choosing not to try.

This is 2022, so they should not stick to their old mentality that Africans are poor and live in shacks. I’m really happy that millions of people are watching my content on TikTok, especially this particular content about Africa, because that way, the people I’m trying to reach are getting the message.

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