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.