Changing The Narrative – “The Open Sore Of A Continent”

Changing The Narrative – “The Open Sore Of A Continent”

Growing up in Africa comes with compulsory acceptance of a number of misguiding beliefs.

Most of such beliefs that portend greater levels of danger for Africa, are ones not usually from the creations of our hands, no, they are foreign. Foreign instigated make-believe schemes are at the top of the rank, and they are created to render Africa mentally defenseless to leverage her: that is, take undue advantage of Africa’s few pockets of misfortunes for the continuous adoration and worship of their instigators by Africans, at the other end, to make the continent wallow continuously in self pity, hatred and disgust. They are largely bent on making Africa ever inferior.

The targets of influencing by these schemes, no doubt, are the thoughts of Africans, the minds of Africans, collective assumptions and consciousness we hold of our selves; our image, our nationhood, world views, the continent; and those of the foreigners, the instigators, in question.The hardest hits we receive from these schemes however, have not yet been felt from the disaster they inflict , but much more from the pleasure many, even the enlightened Africans take in easily falling for them at the face of warnings or reasons, promoting them for foreign recognition, trading them for monetary return; and thus making themselves co-authors of the schemes campaigns in Africa.

no retreat

I, once misled in thought, grew up sharing the ‘American dream’. Before those years, I had taken keen interest in foreign movies, especially those of Euro-Americans, and before my late teens, I had ‘successfully’ become more American in spirit than African. I desired so fancifully then, to live in an ‘utopian’ white life: a life of perfection and total comfort. I had also wanted to be divine and immortal like my never-dying white heroes, because the Americans never die, and when they do-z–it must be in the hard way. Likewise, I had wished to be saintly in my ways too, not like the models of my immediate African examples, but of the American ideal—a man of charisma that champions the cause of all, and never settles for the meanest evil. In whatsoever l was aspiring for, l aspired more in white painted thought!

The black characters in their movies are usually undesirable, especially by the reason of their roles. At most times in heroic films, they die too easily. When they feature more centrally, they are the oppressed, the less privileged; and routine villains whose ends are usually fatal. These ends are at most time pointed at by the hero: a usually die-hard white handsome character,who could dodge bullets or take down 50 enemies at a time. And in the case of rescue, the blacks never rescue the white, the whites always do.

As I fell more for the love of these, brainstormed with the similar story lines they script; anything black became more obnoxious—reminds me of weakness, failure and possibly the devil character in my religious texts. 

The film is just one out of these schemes that mislead our thoughts. Thought-control schemes have different means, and are quite misguiding from the whole truth, and mostly, they work really well when it’s traded by the whites.The whites are in the profitable business of covering their sore and wounds, and selling themselves undue. Many Africans are uncritical consumers: we buy at first sight, leaving ours more open and vulnerable. But since what we buy of them are usually barely half of the truth, we think and act fatally in the directions triggered by wrong opinions, assumptions, and beliefs about our continent and those of the foreigners .

At the extremes of the swings of these wrong beliefs we hold of the overseas, many Africans have sank their fates in the Mediterranean. More are unshaken by such news of shameful ends in the seas, they are further inclined, willing, to exude much of their youthful strength needed at home, to trek scorching fields of the deserts, board shaky boats, to be yet in the end again, embraced by the cold hands of death. No sooner for many who would have thanked heaven because they had managed to escape the funerals of the fish on the sea to get to their dream ‘paradise’, than they are handed over to the rueful hands of reality checks. They end up in prostitution, slavery, illegalities; and thereafter the prison, and possibly massive deportation of many back again to Africa.

poor AmericaHow often do those films reveal the true state of emergency in America? How many have themed the subject of the growing suicide rates in the country? Do they tell us much of the reoccurring ills and the wanton state of delinquencies: shootings and killings on everyday counts among its younger generation? Or how enough do they need to be convinced, that America suffers from such phenomena they often report of Africa? Don’t they just highlight heroic exploits, love, Sci-F and tech-supremacy? Do we see much on unemployment; corruption, drug- addiction, modern day slavery and injustice?

Depending on the level of how one has been misled in thought, the answer of most Africans to the above questions would likely fall in favor of America, or cast much doubts on my darkening seeming painting of America to them.

However, this is not to throw jabs at anyone or in particular America which is used, in generic term, to portray the nature of first world countries. They are just in the astute business of seeking the national interest. But, like Africa, they do have their challenges too. But what makes them different? They refine before telling their stories.Through their media outlets and film industries which have been at the focal point because it reaches out farther in demand, they make the world fall in love with them.The ugly stories likewise, if they will be told at all, are nursed with careful hands and presented to the world harmless to their image. And that is why they are sought-after destinations.

This is not relevant to only first world countries. Even the Philippines, South Korea and Indians showcase the best they’ve got! Those who are lovers of Bollywood often think fanciful of India.The happy “dancing people”, land of love, peace, beautiful girls, fun, and yes, just for fun! Those are the single stories they tell, likewise their media. No film lovers know of the wild state of racism, especially ones against the black, the gravity of poverty in the country,and with due respect, their national “no toilets and open deification” issues, among others. We are the only ones caught in this misleading propaganda. Aren’t we?

Stories are powerful conveyors of reality but they are usually bias. It’s no evil to be. The teller speaks of their own reality  through available means that connects him to the world. Surely he must tell them to his own advantage. They need to be adorable, sweet sounding, to be embraced by others.That is when they will be pricked to come, invest and share of the beauty. And when you refuse to tell yours, others come in likewise and help, with just one mind set—to tell them to their own advantage.

’Since the lions do not have their stories told, it is the bravado of the hunters that will be remembered and not the exploits of the lions’

Africa has beautiful stories that she never tells. But everyone knows the ugly ones. Those ones move faster across the globe than the speed of light. We also join in and enjoy in telling them. Aren’t they our popular jokes? We crack jokes out of our misfortunes online, among international communities, don’t we? This paints us dark and darker everyday. Western media outlets and opinions will never help in this regard.They often blab and stammer when it comes to reporting something laudable or praiseworthy of Africa but use impeccable articulations in the reports of condemnable ones .Should we continue to fold our arms and look? Should we let these wounds get more vulnerable or get more bruised? No! We must treat! No! we must cover!

The true call for action entails a paradigm shift from the ill-fated positions we often take in our conversations on the continent’s issues among ourselves, and the dialogue we have of it with the world. Our round tables of discussions on these issues are so littered with much despair and pessimism, because our focus rests too much more on the injuries we are having as a continent other than our relief. Then thereafter, we add salt to the injuries by inviting the “flies” to the tables, or they invite us to their overseas and we beggarly show them our wounds, expecting healing from them. They just pretend to care but end up doing the business known of the flies: feasting on the wounds we uncovered.

Therefore the direction of the narratives must change. The tables must be turned around with a new scope and better perspective. Our film industries, well recognized and demanded for globally, are the major exporter of our culture and reality.They cannot afford to fill the world anymore with our injuries, whereas they don’t exhibit theirs. Story lines tagging along the concepts of poverty, money-rituals, killings, illiteracy, family crisis and others must for continental reasons be dropped. But if they are to be told at all, they should be in the light of hope: that they are dying out, and they are indeed dying out of the continent.

lightbulb-header Africa

Musicians should sing the songs of hope and new development, the world needs a constant reminder that the continent is tomorrow’s dream: the fastest growing region in the world, let it beat louder. Art works for exports should portray beautiful landscapes and growing urban centers. Yes! The continent houses the world’s 10 fastest growing cities, between 2018 and 2035. Writers must change much from their tone of depressions and oppression, let the world read also about the progression and freedom on the rise. Africa now has women presidents, even some leading nations who appear to champion gender equality are yet to have one, it a sign of growing civil liberty, let the world read to their marvel.

Let everyone, in all endeavors that export Africa’s image, key into this–telling our beautiful stories. Then with time we will get the world to fall in love and view the continent from a new lens far from darkness and hopelessness. Rather, through a lens of light and opportunities.They will come this time to explore, and not exploit. Our brilliant legs in shoes and geniuses in planes zooming off will in no time, see reasons to stay back. Our kitchens will be neat, for kitchen hands will no longer be in scarcity. The sores, the cuts, the wounds and all these injuries that mar our image will be covered, because the new narratives will bring with them—an unexpected touch of healing!

 

This piece was written by Adeniyi Pelumi Junior, a Student Of Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria.

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