Marie-Alix's
Confidences

We should all be
the storytellers of The Africa We Want

‘Those who tell stories rule the world.’ Currently, in our global world, those continents whose stories are positive, do. Centuries went by, but stereotypes are persistent. Africa, the cradle of humanity, is still locked in the collective psyche as the failing region of the world. 

Reclaiming The African Narrative

“How do you get your daughter to eat vegetable? ” She asked. She never let me a chance to answer and she proudly added : “ I’ve printed picture form African kids who are starving and we show them to our girls every day so that they can see how lucky they are to have some healthy food while poor African kids are dying of hunger ”.

Well. I guess I can call myself an adult because I kept calm while explaining to her that not every child were starving to death in Africa. However, I did not stop there. No. This was a call to do more. So, I went to see the teacher and asked if I can do a presentation about Africa in the classroom.

She agreed. Now I was scared. How will I get to explain Africa to a classroom of 20 kids age from 5 to 6 and who knows
NOTHING about Africa?

Einstein said that “if you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself.” So, this was a huge challenge for me. I was struggling with the plan then I decided to do what I do best and love most: to tell a story. And it was a lifechanging experience. The kids enjoyed the story to the point where it brings to the next project with the class, to do a book! At the end of the hour, they knew that (1) Africa is not a country, but a continent with 54 countries, (2) and with thousands of languages - which means that African do not speak “African”, (3) not every African are Black. Plus, they tasted and enjoyed “Missolè / Aloko ”, received a musical instrument as a gift, dance with Angelique Kidjo, learned about Mami Wata (you'd definitely need to know who she is!), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nelson Mandela, Cleopatra, and The Minos. They saw some pictures I had chosen from visiterlafrique.com and they were sparkles in their eyes : some of them confused Luanda (Angola) with somewhere in Paris ☺ . Guess what? Even though I also picked some pictures from the Savanna, none of them talked about lions, giraffes, or elephants. It wasn’t the point. The Africa they all want to discover now is full of human and cities and countries with different stories, colors, and languages. Moreover, they learned that as the rainbow is beautiful thanks to the different colors, so are the human.

I believe that each generation has a crucial role to play. African ancestors fought with their lives for Africa’s freedom and future. The new generation of African descents duty is to be authentic and courageous enough to build, own and share the African narrative with their own words. The purpose here is not about sharing all the positive information about GPD, Statistics, infrastructure or demography. Instead, while restoring our humanity, before having more, it’s all about being more.


" Who am I?" The ultimate question

In the perspective of the infinite, our differences are infinitesimal. Moreover, basic facts do not change: we are all connected by our common humanity. And yet, among the highlights of 2018, there is the FIFA World Cup with the victory of the Bleus and the issue of identity that followed that can be illustrated with a question that could be deemed insignificant: should we read M'Bappé or Mbappé? Beyond the answers given by each other, it shows a global concern that rises, as in all historical periods of profound change. We tend to quickly forget that the first hominid was born in Africa and that the first Homo Sapiens, to whom we trace all of our ancestries, was an African.

Nowadays, the difference divides instead of gathering. Suddenly, it invites everyone to answer the ultimate question that founds any search for authenticity: Who am I? Hannah Pool, an author I discovered thanks to "Myreadingchallenge54" that I launched and which objective is to read 54 African women writers, from 54 African countries in 54 weeks, also asks herself the same question. Hannah Pool who was adopted when she was six months old in Eritrea by a white British couple; she grew up in (first in Sudan, then in Norway) England. Is she Eritrean or British? If I am Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Egyptian or Libyan, do I consider myself profoundly as African or rather as Maghrebin (viewed as a separate entity, different and superior?)? Reciprocally, are the people living in the South of the Sahara consider me as such?One might think that the question of identity and filiation with Africa arises only for those who currently live on the Continent or for those from the Diasporas considered as migrants of the 1st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th generation, whether they are said ‘integrated’ or even ‘assimilated.’ It is far from that. Power, money, and success are not shields against the negative prejudices related to Africa for the Beyonces, Obamas, or Oprahs.


Accountability Over Blame

So, whether they feel like it not, emotionally connected to the Continent or not, despite their nationalities, notoriety or titles, those who have in common to be African descent can’t escape the emergency to build, own and share a new African narrative. This mission can’t be outsourced. It’s time to choose accountability over blame because no one else is to blame for not telling our stories with the words we want to read, see, feel. We should all be the storytellers of Africa we know, want and that many called «home». "One day, Africa will write its History, and it will be, from the North to the South of the Sahara, a story of Glory and Dignity" predicted Patrice Lumumba. The time has come.

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