Retna – telling African stories with African images


Recently, in writing an article, our team needed African pictures for a project we had. It was not supposed to be a tough task – but unfortunately, that’s what it ended up being. We simply could not find any high-quality pictures. After scouring the internet, we finally stumbled upon
Based on a pun on the word ‘Retina’, Retna is definitely one of the more interesting design tools we saw on the internet in 2022. Currently in public beta (very surprising to us), Retna is doing something we already understand quite well – providing stock images. However, they’ve put a very important spin on it – embracing and championing African storytelling. A quick browse of their website and you’ll immediately realise that it is probably the biggest library of high-quality authentic African imagery, covering various subjects, concepts, and most importantly, stories from across the African continent. All achieved by working hand in hand with a community of clearly talented photographers and creatives. It’s pretty impressive if we can say so ourselves.
Retna created their website in response to the frustration African creators, employed professionals and designers face due to the lack of authentic images and videos of Africa. This absence reinforces stereotypes and makes it hard to shift perceptions of the continent. Their objective is to challenge these stereotypes and empower creatives to produce accurate representations of African stories and culture, while democratising access to them. Ultimately, Retna aims to enable people to take ownership of the African story.
Funnily enough, this admirable goal is very clearly reflected in a recent development on their website. Just in time for the Nigerian Gubernatorial Elections, Retna opened a on their website, asking voters across the country to take charge of the narrative by uploading images from their polling centres. This could not be a better timed surprise! Everything from results announced at the centres, to new developments, people will be able to make use of this feature to ensure that there’s a secure repository of their votes. It’s definitely a big and exciting step, and it proves that Retna is serious about their plan to protect, share, and encourage African stories.
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