FIVE WORDS. In a brand proposition survey for 11.7, I posed the question, “what are five words that you associate with Africa?” The results were honest, telling and reaffirmed my gripe with the common perceptions of Africa.
I truly believe we need to change the way the world sees Africa. Common perceptions are often antiquated and skewed by what headlines can accommodate. Pictures of ragged clothing stretched across a malnourished child’s bloated belly are hard on our eyes. The sound of helicopter blades and artillery fire from movies like Blood Diamond and Blackhawk Down are heavy on our ears. And while this is part of Africa and absolutely cannot be ignored, forgotten or glossed over, there is another side – actually other sides. Africa is multidimensional, complex and of course a very large and diverse continent.
I took the 11.7 survey before it was sent out and these are the five words that I associated with Africa: heart, night, sky, warmth and hope. I’ve made it part of 11.7’s mission not only to change common perceptions but also break down the glass wall that makes Africa seem so inaccessible to the majority of people. I want to expose travelers to something that they never expected, put people in touch with those who are like-minded, forge mutually advantageous partnerships and most of all prove that Africa is so much more than any five words.