Rediscovering “Africa”

Last year I started a blog called A Dare to Discover. It’s about African writers, scholars, commentators and innovators whose work I’ve come across.

A Dare to Discover came about for two reasons. First, it was my contribution to the Stephen Lewis Foundation‘s A Dare To Remember campaign, which supports Sub-Saharan African communities dealing with HIV and AIDS. A Dare To Remember is an innovative annual campaign that asks Canadians to dare to do something that challenges them. In 2010 I “dared” myself to create a blog and post on it every day for a month. (I made it through the month, and kept going.)

Second, I observed a disconnect between my experiences working in Africa with researchers and activists there, and the “doom and gloom” news about Africa that we in North America usually hear. We don’t learn about the creative initiatives, skills, personal or community stories that abound and that might change our perceptions about the continent and its prospects.

So I set up A Dare to Discover also to profile Africans whose perspectives challenge our preconceptions in some way. People like Pius Adesanmi, a Nigerian academic who questions the notion of an entity called “Africa”; or Ory Okolloh, a Kenyan social media expert and corporate lawyer who co-founded Ushahidi, an online platform now used worldwide for information-sharing during crises; or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian writer who confronts stereotypes and warns us that having only a “single story” about a place or a person takes away that place or person’s dignity; or Gaston Kabore, a Burkinabe filmmaker whose films retell and reaffirm Africans’ histories and aspirations.

If you’re interested, you can find A Dare to Discover at


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This blog is about the world and how we see it — and how that influences what we do about it.

First, this blog is about perspectives. I’m interested in the “windows” that frame the views we have of the world. I’m also interested in ideas and people who help us widen or deepen or move those frames so we can get fresh views.

Second, it’s about connections. I see connections everywhere: between the global and the local, across disciplines and sectors, and among people who might not be aware of what they have in common. Although concepts like “local” and “global” help us make sense of the world, they also limit our ability to relate or respond to people or issues. Understanding the connections can make us more effective in our efforts to address social, environmental and political challenges.

All this connecting and boundary-crossing and looking at things from different angles could make a person dizzy. But considering alternative perspectives and finding connections can give us a greater range of ways of understanding and richer options for moving forward.

And who knows? Maybe the focus of this blog will evolve as we go along.

Thanks for dropping by, and please share your ideas and comments.

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Filed under connections, perceptions