What would come to mind if the word “Africa” were pronounced? Would you want to be associated with whatever response?
My answer is “It depends what exactly has been told about Africa that I may want to be associated with” and before you lynch, let me explain that some of what is told of Africa is based on stereotypes and misconceptions (I wonder if you would want to be associated to a pack of daylight/moonlight lies about a place you have grown, fed, dated and even married)!!
I happened to attend the last day of #writivism2016 and after a few excerpts had been read from Gambit (a book am looking to own one of these jolly days 😉 ), a discussion ensued. The audience wanted to know what it is/should be like to write an African story hence mind boggling questions that could be summarized in one “What is Africa to you?”
Is it the war-tone area filled with aggressive black people? Is just a single country? Is it filled with vegetation and animals? Do its people walk around with bark cloth and spears in hand? Are they so uncertain about revolution that they have no single clue about tech and innovations, tall buildings and chemistry labs………..?
The argument is here; Africa is a continent with variety of countries, people and tribes. Africa has gone through revolution as much as any other country. Africa is authentic and proud of it but it has inevitably faced change over time. The story sold about Africa is only but a rumor unless you make travel within its unfold.
On analysis however, you will realize that our perception of the world is almost flawed. And not that I intend to induce any hard feelings but isn’t it baffling that the movies will show a wishful life of the people outside Africa whereas the same movies will speculate how a certain disease started out in a certain forest in Africa? Its rather nerving that we are letting other people sell our story with a web of lies whereas we sit to laugh at the humor interjected.
Did I deviate up there? Ooops if it feels that way, here is the catch; As Joel Ntwatwa, Shaun Randol and Ayobami chaired the session on Gambit review, one thing I learned was, “as you try to write about Africa, don’t look back five ten decades ago, only look back to reflect on Africa’s journey towards its revolution. Write about the current Africa, The Africa in 2016 where we have trends like the Rolex. Therein is the rawness and authenticity you are looking to engage the reader with.” Personally, I have come to realize that;
words are your magic wand. Weave them appropriately and you might be as lucky as Cinderella
Conclusively, judging a place and its people before deeply engaging is what a certain writer had in mind as they formulated “never judge a book by its cover’. Otherwise the people in Africa have the same heart and possibly even insecurities but then how can you know if you have no courage to travel to discover the diversity of this beautiful continent..huh?!
- You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down. ~ Bateke proverb
- Traveling is learning. ~Kenyan Proverb
- A day of traveling will bring a basketful of learning. ~ Vietnamese proverb