Honest Storytelling Connects Him to Africa and the United States


“Growing up, I wanted to be two things, either a diplomat or a journalist. As I grew up and furthered my education, I became more and more focused on storytelling and making films.”

 Abdulai Jalloh is a Guinean American living in Brooklyn, New York. He spent most of his childhood traveling between Guinea and the United States. Abdulai is grateful for his time in Guinea and cherishes the cultural experiences that he had there. “Growing up in Guinea was a blessing because now I understand the value of diverse perspectives, having strong cultural roots, generosity, respecting your elders, and communal existence. It reminds me I’ve been blessed to have all these opportunities in the United States and how many of my peers in Guinea could use those same opportunities.” 

Abdulai and his brother, the founders of Bordernation.

Abdulai, disappointed with how Africa and Africans are portrayed in global media, wanted change. “Some of the stories I was seeing and reading about Africa and us Africans I’ve never seen or heard. That’s frustrating.” He and his brother decided to turn this frustration into a passion to help his community back home. Abdulai and Husamatu Jalloh started their own multimedia production company called Bordernation. Abdulai states, “At Bordernation, we’re focused on telling real, authentic and diverse stories. We focus on minority stories and pan-African stories because those have been neglected and misrepresented. We want to be a voice for the voiceless.”

In a world filled with “fake news,” clickbait and misinformation, reliable and credible storytelling is more important than ever before. When asked how crucial ethical storytelling is online and in the journalism community, Abdulai said, “We live in the era of social media, where attention is the most valuable commodity and where people will do anything for clickbait without regard for the truth. There must be a strong counterbalance to those who lie to society. Telling honest stories is why I do this.”

Abdulai has big dreams for the future of Bordernation, and he’s focused on making them a reality. According to Abdulai, “By the end of this year, we plan to expand into Africa by opening Bordernation’s first media office on the continent. If everything goes as planned, we will be in Latin America and the Caribbean by the end of next year. We’re already discussing potential partnerships with stockholders in those regions. The goal is for our company to be a global media brand and the voice of Africa and its diaspora.”

Filming in a holding cell at a slave castle in Cape Coast, Ghana.

YALI Network members can play an important role in honest storytelling — you don’t need to be a professional journalist to be a responsible source of credible news and stories. Take Abdulai’s advice: “Utilize the support you’re getting to tell important and informative stories.

An informed community is a blueprint for crisis solving and making helpful decisions. As community journalists, we’re the bridge between the problem and the solution. We must tell honest and credible stories so our community of readers can make sound decisions about the stories we report.”

Abdulai is looking to connect with other YALI Network members: “At Bordernation, we’re always looking for compelling and intriguing stories and to partner with bright minds. So to YALI Network members: We’re here to assist and collaborate with you. You’re welcome to reach out.”

Are you interested in learning how to be a community journalist? Visit our YALISpeaks page for more tools and resources.

 





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