On a misty Saturday morning. Few days after Nigeria's independence. A week to have been believed Nigeria and Nigerians should roll out drums, dance to the tune of "gangan", an hourglass-shaped (talking) drum from West Africa, make for themselves pounded yam and egusi soup coupled with some roasted bush meats, or betterstill, prove her winning powers in jollof saga with (Ghana) their western counterpart. But it turned the other way round. Aso Villa, Nigeria's presidential residence, that takes the shape of a down-faced "pito's" calabash, was found in solitary. Making me wonder why a nation whose citizenry spend exuberantly on ceremonial functions like weddings, christening, house warming and burials are giving a cold shoulder to celebrating the struggles, and pains her fore-leaders had pass through in gaining her independence.
Issues plaguing the exponential development of Nigeria has blind folded the successes achieved over the years, which makes its people wonder if Nigeria independence is truly worth cerebrating.
Concurrently, that same week happened to be the kick off of Amplify fellowship II. A fellowship of hard core, resilent, and creative people who are on the verge of getting brewed in changing the narrative about Africa and better positioning Africa's image on the global stage in its diversity, cultures, values and systems. Arguably, one thing Nigeria or Africa hasn't got independence at is her narrative. As most of her narratives are still powered by western media.
The fear of Lagos traffic palava made me left home earlier and as per- Saturdays in Lagos is celebration galore. You see people rock their aso ebi, and some owambe(s). I was dabbled with sweat as I arrived at Andela, a slightly pink painted building where Nigeria's (computer) wizardry is seasoned. Couldn't show the celestial joy in me. But took to grinning. Finally, I now have the privilege to see with my naked eyes what Andela looks like in reality. Few months ago, thoughts on why developers are highly recognized and get all the good things of life was zigzagging across my heart. Contemplated switching to coding as oppose to writing. But Chidi Afulezi's, (co-founder akoma) words affirm the importance and significance of story tellers and story telling. However, one thing that kept echoing in my head during the lecture was who's going to tell the Africa story? Our very own story judiciously.
Apparently, it's right to say Africans are in better position in telling their story. But each time I hear this sentiment. I question it. Not because they are not, but the inaction of her leaders in embracing its history, culture, values and roots. Now. Today. Consequently, rubbing off on its future and her younger generation. "I knew nothing about Biafra until I was 10 years old. What I learned was thanks to my family’s personal library and stories my mother told me of my maternal grandfather’s participation on the Nigerian side of the war. Millions of Nigerian citizens born years after the war know nothing about it or of the two coups preceding it. In our schools, there was no education about the civil war in the history curriculum; this is even more stunning considering the fact that the Biafran war captured international attention at the time. Last November, legislation to make history a core subject in our primary and secondary institutions was shot down in parliament for semantic reasons". Eromo Egbejule, a BugIT fellow stated.
During Nigeria's 57th independence. President Muhammadu Buhari gave a keynote address to Nigerians. In his keynote, he stated his involvement in Nigeria civil war as a young Army Officer. "I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about 2m lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through. I am very disappointed that responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths what the country went through. Those who were there should tell those who were not there, the consequences of such folly".
These are many more reasons we should be willing in telling our story. For Africa's narrative lies in what become of its future today and her generation. Reasons we should be proud of what Akoma media and other folks in this space are doing.
A yoruba adage says, "Bee bi omode ko ba ba itan, yoo ba aroba, aroba si ree, baba itan ni". Meaning; he who doesn't witness a history, will hear of it. Either from the elders or those who witnessed it and this is the ultimate of history.
So, who shall then tell the Africa story when her leaders' shyness from its history is affecting its future and younger generation? Anyway, “the future belongs to those who understand the fact that efforts to reduce you to a story must be matched by your own efforts to shine as a diversity of stories ~ Pius Adesanmi.
My fellow fellows, Nigerians and Africans. It's time to change Africa's enigmatic narrative and bring to limelight the awesomeness that's brewing on our continent.
photo credit: Damilola Onafuwa.