“Until the lion learns to write, the stories would glorify the hunter.”African Proverb
It’s 8 pm. Kwame is in bed. He calls out,” Papa, tell me the story? Dad laughs out,” But I have told you this story many times.” “One more,”Kwame pleads.
It was many centuries ago, when exactly? We will never know. But tales had been told of the wonders of Africa.Of buildings covered in gold, inventions like the first Caesarean section, known as such, because it was written that it happened during the Roman rule under Caesar. We might’ve called it the ‘Kahuran section” because indigenous healers in Kahura, Uganda had already been doing this for centuries, long before it was standardized worldwide.
“But like I said- we will never know.” Dad says.“What of African art?” Kwame asks.“Ah, my son, the majesty of Shona sculptures, Tinga Tinga paintings of Tanzania, Kente cloth of Ghana, Rock Art of Niger, all preserved for over 6000 years.”
“This is the history of Africa: a glimpse into a past that we, the youth of those days had no idea. You, my son, are lucky that you know this now.” “But Dad, why didn’t you know?” “Ignorance, my child! We imagined everything that once existed was swept away across the Sahara desert or didn’t exist because we had no proof to hold onto thus we held onto what made sense, what we could see and unfortunately, it was of another culture.”
Kwame snuggles in bed and asks,” What changed that?”.It was a day, like today, back in July 2020 when the world was under a pandemic that left no continent free.No one was immune. Change had come and we had to change with it.”
“We couldn’t turn a blind eye to what was happening. We were all affected. The one thing that made sense was delving deep into who we were as a people. Each continent and each culture was forced to do so. But the question remained: Was Africa ready? To embrace its stories of the past- the good, the bad and the ugly.
“Papa, what are those stories?” Kwame asked.“They were our stories” “His Stories,” Kwame said.” “Exactly”, Dad replied,” History comes from the Greek word,’ Historia’ meaning ‘to know’. It’s a story of past events. People gathered knowledge from written documents, oral accounts, art like the mask Mum bought and hung in the living room.” “Oh, I see,” Kwame said.“Yes, historians use them to understand the past,” Dad replied.
“My son, that’s why we are here-to know and understand. Not to dwell in the past but to know what, how and why it happened so we can learn from our ‘knowledge’ and practice what worked and change what didn’t.” “Papa, did we learn?”Kwame asked.
Dad replied,” We were envisioning an Africa, a Wakanda where we were a global powerhouse of democracy, cultural identity, economic progress & continental integration. Do you understand?” “Yes Papa, I do,” Kwame said.“I was 17 years old like your brother, Jomo now is. My friends and I wanted to know: When we are in 2060, this year we are now in, how would we know we had actually achieved the goals we had written down? Wouldn’t we have to look back to 2020, forty years ago, to see how far we had come and achieved as a continent?
“You must work the end from the beginning. That’s why Africa’s future is in its past. The elders accepted the brutal facts and used them as beacons to the Africa they wanted. They embraced our stories and shared them with us, the youth. Made us understand where we came from and where we were going so in 2060 when we were the leaders of the day, we would make informed decisions for our continent.
“Papa, what decisions are you making now?”Dad replied,” My son, everything I do is for your future. We are now working on a new agenda.“ A new one?”.” Yes, Agenda 2110 where Africa will be moving forward with a new story, building on the past agenda to a better Wakanda”
“And guess what, my son?”.“What, Papa?”.” It won’t be a dream but a reality where one night, you’ll tuck your son in bed and he will hand you a book and ask, “Dad, tell me the story again.” You will reply,” Which story, my son?” “The one where Africa united more than fifty years ago to rewrite the narrative of who we are, changing a continent.” ”My son,” you will reply,” Once upon a time……