Africa is a geographically massive continent. Before I left my home, Zimbabwe, I had no idea about the rest of the continent. There is little to no opportunity for us Africans to know about each other for a variety of reasons including the prohibitive cost of travel on the continent. Besides we got enough problems at home to go around anywhere else. Just like the west does, we hold a lot of prejudices against our neighbors and other parts of Africa and I have been dismantling mine since I got on a plane and left my home. I am grateful for the opportunity to experience this and one of the things I hope my writing can do is inspire other Africans to go on your own explorations as well.
Sometime in undergraduate I was part of a production of a hugely successful African play that we put on as our annual African Cultural Show.The play was an inspired performance about Africa, by Africans and I wrote a piece about it, with the theme of telling our own stories on the link below.
Rereading it reminded me of one thing.
There is a famous African proverb, “Until the story of the hunt is told by the lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” This is to say, history will always be written from the perspective of those in power and until you speak out someone else will always speak for you.
Africa’s story for the longest time has been mostly told by other people. Historically it was the Europeans, who wrote about their experiences exploring the continent and later on wrote down what story was needed to justify their activities on the continent. Now it’s CNN and BBC, and NGOs largely showing the not so great parts of Africa and perpetuating the narrative of the dark continent with no nuance to the story at all. Until we Africans speak up, this monolithic story of our home will prevail across the world and rereading this piece I wrote 8 years ago, made me realize my part in this fight.
One of my favorite African writers, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie has a fantastic TED talk called “The danger of single story,” and you can find it on the link below.
I love this TED talk for so many reasons, but most of all for pointing out the complexity that everyone’s story comes with and how much more enriched you can be if you take the time to find out. My hope is with my writing I can humanize Africa and its struggles , and inspire folks to go and find the stories behind the people in their lives.
Last but not least, I lived in America for a while, and Americans love to ask all foreigners to ask me, “So how do you like it?”. I love shocking them with a very sullen answer, “I don’t!” Haha, I really do not mean it like that. I mean besides the not so occasional killing people who look like me, and voting for a questionable president. I could say America is ok I guess. What I really have come to know is that America is not my home, Africa is my home. In my travels I have fallen in love with Rio De Janeiro, Tel Aviv, New York and Bombay but nothing beats the feeling of unfettered joy that I experience when I step off the plane in an African country :)!
Africa matters to me even though it is not a perfect place by any measur. We still have terrible leaders in some countries, diseases, wars and famine and we are still reeling from the scars of 500+ years plus of exploitation but I will never think we are hopeless. In fact we are far from that, we are on the rise! Ok I am going to stop sounding like a cheesy greeting card now. I mostly want to be home because we party until the sun comes up!
I am truly excited for our future…