4 Reasons Why We Need To Use Participatory Video in Africa?

Last Month, I went to Oxford for InsightShare Participatory Video (PV) Training of Facilitators. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect and had no clue how you can actually facilitate a Participatory Video method. In only 6 days, I learnt to facilitate group exercises for participants to use the camera, shoot, edit, produce AND screen! And have fun learning all of that, quite impressive.

Click on the video below to see details on the exercises we did everyday and the overall flow of the training.

I also found that InsightShare has been doing this for the last two decades, how cool to learn from the world leader in the field of participatory video?  

Here are 4 Reasons why I think we need to use this method in our work and in our communities across Africa.

1. Own Our Narrative

In a continent blessed with abundant resources and youth-led social change, the dominant stories are still that of conflict, diseases, wars, famine, corruption, rising extremism and exotism. A picture of gloomy continent full of problems has never been an accurate one because it has not been told by Africans. This made Africa’s scope and story only fit the big screen and Western perception. Why? Because a filmmaker can come, shoot and edit “the” story. Good or bad, negative or positive, it will always remain a one world view from the director’s lens. To decolonize these narratives, they have to be told, re-told and owned by Africans.  

PV is about owning your narrative, developing your storyline and choosing your audience.

2. Build Our Power

This is not about a filmmaker who will come to do everything and leave! You are the one behind the camera shooting and interviewing, in front of the camera telling the story and on the laptop screen editing. You learn every single piece of your gadget and equipment; how to unpack it, pack it, plug it, unplug it and everything in between.

PV is about learning all the skills you need to produce and screen your film.

3. Practice Our Ubuntu

PV is not hard for us to learn, it comes natural because our values are rooted in togetherness and communal interactions. I’m happy to use this method in building pan-African spaces that mediate cultural dialogue and strengthen group identity.

PV is all about the process for social change so enjoy the process!

4. Continue Our Healing

Yes it is about the community but also about our individual voice, our personal emotions and connecting eventually into to the collective story of the group. PV uses a “story circle” which I think is a powerful space of healing. How many times can we have the chance to be vulnerable without being judged? to express and address pain, inequality, stigma and fear?

It is an exercise for both the storyteller and listener to heal and build individual confidence and empathy. When you know that your individual voice and personal experience matter through the collective process then you own it and embrace it. It becomes your power that you can act on regardless if it ends up in the final film or not.  

PV can prompt a deeply meaningful dialogue with others that might otherwise have been silent.

There are many more reasons why we have to use participatory video in Africa. That’s why we need more African PV practitioners to master this method and tell us more how we can make it useful for us.

I am writing this because I don’t want you to miss the upcoming Training of facilitators in Cape Town on 12-17 November 2018, deadline for registration is 25th October 2018.


Find more info on the Facebook Event https://www.facebook.com/events/333530210541944/


Aya Chebbi

IS Global Ambassador and Campaigner

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