Changing The African Narrative
I can’t remember how many times in the last few years I found myself looking for sources of African information or an African perspective on something and finding none. A more recent incident was that of the Sierra Leone floods. I wanted to find out how to donate to any aid groups or organisations on the ground helping the people of Sierra Leone get back on their feet. Guess what? I couldn’t find any. When I used Google to search for more info, there weren’t any African publications in the top results and more ‘because they had to’ type reports on the whole situation. The closest I got to it was exchanging some messages with the Red Cross via Twitter who suggested that I just donate through their regular channels with no guarantee that my money would specifically help the Sierra Leone flood victims. Disappointing.
This isn’t the first time nor will it be the last. In the Shona language they say ‘kudzidza hakuperi’ (learning never ends) and for sure it never does. Time and again I have jokingly mentioned to a friend or two about how the dictionary we use in Zimbabwe to translate Shona to English, the Duramazwi, was written by a white guy. No, really it actually was written by a guy called Desmond Dale. All due respect to Mr Dale but I just find it odd that he had that level of interest to create a Shona dictionary. I come from a country where not many people care about documenting their African stories. The most likely reason you will hear is that ‘it doesn’t make me any money’. We are losing our culture and history because of the nonchalance.
That is why I am playing my part in establishing a platform such as African Podcasts that will help to bring those African stories to life. I want to take charge of shaping the true African narrative, as an African, rather than let someone else do it. The importance of African Podcasts is to put the story tellers and the narrative-shapers at the forefront. The more we let other people tell our stories, we lose the opportunity to let the world know OUR truth. A lot of African history taught in schools and published in books is either untrue or does not give Africans their due credit. Zimbabweans and Zambians will tell you David Livingstone ‘discovered’ Victoria Falls/Mosi Oa Tunya. We were taught that in history classes throughout our schooling years.
This extends to so many other things. If you go on platforms such as Wikipedia, try publishing an article using purely African sources. There is every chance that your submission will be denied because the ‘sources cannot be verified’. Wow. The examples are countless. I want to urge every African out there, we have the tools to change things and take ownership of our stories. There is no shame in doing so.
Maybe we have spent way too much time trying to survive rather than actually living that we forgot to protect the integrity of our own narrative.