I would like to first say that it is an honor and a privilege to work with AFIDFF. This Foundation, Festival and Web Platform are very special because they provide an essential form of demarginalization through storytelling and documentaries. Africa is an important and necessary component that should be included in the Global narratives. For decades upon decades, people have learned untruths about Africa and all of its beautiful parts and people. I have witnessed how the story of Africa, in all of its glory, has been, sadly, omitted from these narratives and discourses. Most media stories perpetuated (and still do) negative stereotypes told by those who were not of Africa – allowing inaccuracies to spread across nations as facts.
Without an intricate understanding of her struggles and triumphs, the storytelling processes often marginalized the people of Africa, never allowing their stories to be a part of the main stream. So, rather than a peaceful and calming identifier that early explorers characterized as Black Gold, Africa and her people, became a darkness to be feared
As a journalist, educator, scholar, researcher, activist, and humanist who believes, wholeheartedly, in inclusion and demarginalization of all people, I understand the importance of storytelling as a way to move from the margins and bring attention to important competencies. From my own travels to the Motherland, where all humanity and civilization began, I have found that there is a richness that lies not only in the soil, but, in its people, the trees, oceans, mountains, language, culinary cuisine, culture, traditions and spiritual fortitude – elements that are the bedrock of globalization. If we want to, truly, be educated about the world, then we must include stories from where the “world” began – and that is in and of Africa. If we want to do away with this fear that has been a part of the unfair, conditioning of people, we must allow Africans to tell the world their own stories and in their own words. They must be allowed to share what is untrue, to elevate an understanding of what is true and Transformational. AFIDFF provides these powerful spaces and platforms for stories to be shared of Africa by Africans. I take honor in accepting and acting in the role as President of this Foundation because I, strongly, believe that now is the time for the indigenous voices of Africa and people of the Diaspora, to speak and have a seat at the table to share stories with accuracy, fairness, and relevance. They have been silenced, dismissed, left in the margins or nonexistent far too long. Instead of waiting to be invited to the table of media messengers, we created our own table and began new, empowering conversations and projects of positivity to educate and uplift the world and the core spirits of people who want to live and thrive in a better world. We can be better and we can do better. The lions and lionesses are now telling their stories across the globe and real stories of Africa are being produced every day. I am thrilled to see so many young aspiring documentarians creating and recording history through their documentaries. I hope you will take the time to join in our efforts of improving the conditions of Africa, and, consequently, the world. For no matter who you are or where you live, our home in Africa is your home. We are a family and we welcome you and invite you to come sit with us and help make dreams come true and these voices to be, finally, heard. Thank you for visiting.
Peace and Blessings to you.
Dr. Janice Marie Collins