issues

A TWIST TO JOSEPH KONY

Before you spread the word, take time to think first. How many times have you been fed a pitiful image about Africa that prompted you to suddenly become a temporary social media activist? You can’t remember? How many times have you watched a documentary framing an issue that speaks to a crisis in Africa, and you shed a tear and were moved to repost the video to your FB timeline, or even shared it inbox to raise awareness on the matter? Countless I imagine. I love this age we live in. One thing happens five time-zones away and we are inundated with reports of it in less than 5 minutes. We are buried in the innards of the information monster and we seem to be oblivious to its numbing effects on us.

So constantly we are faced with the reality of dual living; the social media avatars we present, and the real us strutting the corridors of life and sucking up to the demands of bread and water. Armed with Blackberrys, Android devices, iPhones, pads, and pods, along with the power platforms of Facebook, Twitter, and the likes, we suddenly assume the active global citizen that lends it voice to almost every passing concern. We like, share, comment, spool, anything that gets our attention and quickly move on to the next big thing. We have so perfected the art of using emoticons that we even literally believe that a ‘lol’ means the user is bursting out in actual laughter.

There seems to be only one thing that is consistent, and that is the desire to belong to something bigger than us.  But as for actually getting involved in something bigger, we stand in apparent contradiction to our avatars. Sad innit? A while ago I wrote a blog post on the treadmill dynamic and why social media activity is like going somewhere but walking on a treadmill. We engage in so much visible activity but no tangible impact. As soon as I saw the Joseph Kony video earlier this week, I knew that suddenly we will have many social activist rekindling their passion for social justice. However, by the weekend, I expect that their profile pictures would have return to more real images of friends, parties, idols, etc.
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issues

WHO WILL TELL OUR UNTOLD STORIES?

After I watched one of Ishmael Beah‘s several lectures on his book, I was rightly inspired on the fact that no one will ever tell your story as good as you. With a carefully woven narrative and a well coloured setting to bring into our imaginations the trajectory of the Sierra Leonean war and its implication on children, Beah succeeds in holding any reader spell-bound for all moments spent juicing the book. After I read the book, I asked myself who could have told this story better than Beah himself? I read beyond the language and the imageries it used to communicate the story. I felt the emotions streaming from the lines betwixt the text, and literally walked the frightful paths of labyrinth-like forest of Sierra Leone‘s countryside along with the confused children. It can only be told by Beah and he did justice to his story.

This points me to the fact that Africans over the years have never really told their stories for what it is. We have often received attention because someone else told the story and defined the narrative way too early before we come to grips with the fact that we are not active in the conversation. This could be an extreme characterization of the issue, but perhaps I can only express it this way so we fully get my point. With Africa having experienced so much in the last 50 years, there is a lot to storyboard. We stand the risk of our unborn children having to read the stories we didn’t write just as we read the stories of “how we were discovered”. Oh! that I read from my father’s great grand father on how his people met with the Caucasoid foreigners that first stepped foot on our shores. Maybe my understanding of our history would have been different. Even though the sages have passed down wise words woven into our vernacular conversations, and I have been taught songs and moonlight stories that help my appreciation of where I come from, I am still bereft of a complete capture of the story of my origin. Is there something to do in provoking the dead to talk.

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