Mbugua began paying attention to the growing podcast scene in 2017, and witnessed an influx of new shows. In 2019, with Africa Podfest, she created an African podcast database that has continued to track the growth of podcasts across the continent and in the diaspora. In particular, Mbugua said, they surged last year: “Podcasting around the world saw a wave of growth in 2020, and Africa is no different in this regard.”Now a lot of these African podcasters are becoming well-known in their own right. Some you may have heard of, others maybe not, but that’s OK—these podcasts aren’t made for the Western gaze. Instead, they serve as a reminder that while Western media coverage of Africa frequently oscillates between the sometimes patronizing “Africa Rising” stories and missives about war, poverty, and corruption, amid all this are normal people, dealing with normal life.
“We are a new perspective, not confined to rewriting stories to the West but, more importantly, being an African voice heard by Africans and others.”
The Zimbabwean podcasters Melissa Mbazo-Ekpenyong, Nolizwe Mhlaba, and Nomsa Mlambo are the brains behind African Seoulmates, a podcast about Korean dramas. On it, they discuss the shows they are watching, analyze episodes, and marvel at some of their favorite stars. While the show was born out of their passion for K-dramas, they were also keen to disabuse people of the notion, they said, that “West is best.”“We should always challenge gatekeeping and hegemonic practices where we see them,” added Mhlaba. “We are throwing our hat in the ring to say we, too, as African women, have valid opinions about art that is being created around the world.”While podcasts like Legally Clueless and Men.Men.Men have provided a space for sharing experiences, there are also shows that have allowed individuals and communities to take ownership of their stories and national histories.
“Therapy is considered to be a Western concept, but sitting together and sharing experiences, folklore, and stories is part of our culture.”