‘Do Africans Have Cars?’ How a TikTok Star Breaks Stereotypes about Africa

TikTokers across the continent of Africa will often find ignorant questions and remarks in their comments on a daily basis. But one TikTok star is breaking stereotypes by using sarcasm, and her TikToks have gone viral.

By Hannah Ajala

Viral videos on social media apps like TikTok have sparked widespread conversations about numerous topics people often hold stereotypical views about, especially when it comes to the lives of ethnic minorities. In a world with an inundated plethora of information, there is still so much stigma about parts of the world associated with marginalised communities.

Charity Ekezie, from Nigeria, noticed this and decided to do something about it. Questions like ‘do Africans have cars?’ or ‘are there nice houses in Africa?’ have been greeted with sarcastic videos voiced by Ekezie, where she stands in the outdoors in her homeland of Nigeria, sometimes standing in front of actual houses and cars, yet claiming that North Africans travel by camels, and West Africans travel to work via their baboons, sparking several reactions to her humorous content. TikTokers across the continent of Africa will often find ignorant questions and remarks like these in their comments on a daily basis.

@charityekezie Reply to @ctc_vm_ your mum is so smart and well informed. #sacarsm #africa #charityekezie ♬ original sound – sucrepea

These videos have amassed hundreds and thousands of views, with comments surfacing from a global audience.  Media Diversity Institute reached out to Charity Ekezie who gladly welcomed a conversation about her mission in breaking down stereotypes of marginalised communities, especially in Africa.

Ekezie grew up in Cameroon but after primary school she went to Nigeria so that she is closer to her roots, culture and family, where she continued when education.

‘I then went onto study mass communication, as I’ve always loved speaking, and I have a wide interest in news and journalism. I do a lot of things so I would consider myself multi-skilled. My biggest dream has always been to be in the media. I created content on YouTube for years before TikTok even came around. Social media certainly seems like a great place to start for publicity, especially when having career dreams of working in the media,’ she tells Media Diversity Institute.

Her journey on making hilarious TikTok videos started after she responded sarcastically to a comment that questioned the ability of people in Africa to own phones.

‘Sarcasm is something many Africans like me grew up with. I decided to flow with it into social media last year when a viral post of a young woman from Uganda filming whilst next to a water borehole, and was asked how she is able to afford a phone. Under that same post, I’d responded to that comment saying “we don’t have a phone. We actually use a community giraffe.”  Then went onto describing it in more detail. That comment I made gained thousands of likes. It was from this that it sparked more ideas for me to create more sarcastic videos in response to the shocking questions that were often asked about Africa. I’d say things like “we don’t have water in Africa, we just use our saliva.” The content and ideas just kept coming,’ she says.

@charityekezie Reply to @youalreadyknowitscammm yeah, Purified Saliva has saved our Lives. Thanks to all the African women and girls who donate their spit for this cause, you’re loved🥰 #sacarsm #africa #charityekezie ♬ original sound – sucrepea

In less than a year, Ekezie’s videos have gathered over 20 million views, often by people who have never visited Africa, and therefore have a more warped perception of Africans too. This attention, however, led to online trolling and hateful comments.

‘For the first time in my life, I received racism about my skin colour. I only experienced it when I joined TikTok. I was really shocked by the comments talking about my skin colour like it was a bad thing. They clearly live a sheltered life, because I would never judge someone by their skin colour. I turned the sadness into humour by making these negative stereotypes and ignorant people to look stupid, and to learn that we are actually better than they think we are,’ she tells Media Diversity Institute.

Ekezie’s way of dealing with online trolls could be a possible solution to challenging stereotypes of people within the Black community.

‘I am just one person and I feel like I am making a difference. I’m happy we are being heard. As Africans, as Black people, I am happy we are being seen. Countries with the highest amount of stereotypes – like the USA – are amongst the highest viewers of my videos. These are people I want to reach with my messages. They don’t know us and many of them don’t understand our way of living, so taking ownership of how we tell our stories as Africans is crucial,’ she says.

@charityekezie Reply to @vanvittigt because the evil forest is evil 🥲🥲 kindly send us your strongest warriors to defeat it 😫 #sacarsm #africa #charityekezie ♬ original sound – sucrepea

Social media is such a powerful tool in helping shape this too. It’s created its own type of activism to share widespread messages with people, and in Charity Ekezie’s case, to challenge narrow mindedness about Africans.

For Nigeria specifically, the current government exhibits similar narrow mindedness especially when it comes to the youth

‘If I start talking about this, I don’t think it will end. Any means where youth have a voice and make money, then they’ll shut it down, unless it doesn’t involve or ‘harm’ the government in any way – take the former Twitter ban for example. Unless we have someone running for office who actually understands and adapts to change, then we as the youth won’t really have much hope.

I also appreciate the fact that my content is watched globally – not just by Nigerians who would already understand how we really live here. My messages are for those who really need to hear it,’ she tells Media Diversity Institute.

In just a short period of time Charity Ekezie has managed to break widespread stereotypes simply by embracing the power of social media and the wit and humour she was surrounded with. Her plans, however, don’t stop here.

‘I’d really love to do a meet and greet tour soon across different African countries as I have a lot of fans in countries like Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Of course I also look forward to traveling beyond the continent too, like the USA. My biggest dream is still to pursue my news career, so I am still passionate about moving towards that direction,’ she tells Media Diversity Institute.

Ekezie closes by saying she wants to continue to make Africa proud, by showcasing all the continent has to offer and more.

‘I noticed something too. Whenever I told people the real deal about Africa, they didn’t really care about the videos. However, when I use sarcasm, they listen! In my videos, they could see me talking about there being no water, with a huge jerrycan of water placed behind me. I’ve learned that if you learn with a joke, it makes it harder for people to forget. I want to make sure that I’m visually making that impact in their brains about representation,’ she concludes.

@charityekezie Reply to @ellxz9648 We just swing on trees like Tarzan sweetie.🥺 infact the Super rich Africans ride on Zebras 😩.#charityekezie #sacarsm #africa ♬ original sound – sucrepea