“To define Africa as a whole makes it necessary to look at it from the outside. But constantly doing so results in tropes that undermine the perspectives of those that live on the continent.” – Nancy Kacungira, Winner of BBC World News Komla Dumor Award for Africa – Why I cannot tell ‘the African Story’.
Talking about Africa has become increasingly popular these days where Africa is normally referenced as a single homogeneous entity. If for no other reason, that alone should encourage us to get up and tell our stories. To write about ourselves and share our tales loudly and fearlessly. If I had an opportunity to say only one thing to my motherland, it would definitely be “Have a little faith in yourself”. We can no longer see the statement “This is Africa” as a patronizing declaration of our inadequacy but more as recognition of our greatness.
We speak to raise awareness on the issues affecting us. Do not buy in to the fallacy that we, Africans, are all about ’empty talk’. To accept, that all we do, is whine on social media is a distortion of the truth. Many movements have yielded successful results simply because a critical mass raised their voices against a problem. The point of Africa’s new found voice is to expose our failings and to constantly remind us that we must continue to improve and that we live to learn, from the past and from the present.
The truth is, the conversations held in the past few years on feminism, corruption and entrepreneurship have moved us a considerable number of steps forward. We’ve made notable strides in slowly but certainly taking our place on the global stage. There’s much more to be done and for this reason, the talking must go on. If we do not discuss it, it does not exist. If it does not annoy us, it does not matter. Contrary to popular belief, that anger is a waste of time and intelligence, anger is the outward symptom of discontent with the status quo. Complaints are not a sign of an ungrateful and rebellious generation but really the mark of a people coming in to their own. Change doesn’t book an appointment and send a chauffeur driven limo to come and get you.
“Change stems from anger and fatigue and the sincere belief that we deserve better and that we must demand better. From our friends, from our governments and from the world at large.”
Most importantly, change happens when we understand that we must demand better from ourselves. The difference is felt when we actively contribute towards altering the situation from what is to what it’s meant to be. For far too long, Africa has had to bear the brunt of being the ultimate minority, bottom of the food chain and then some. Well, here’s the good news; now there’s a few of us who honestly believe that we do deserve better.
One day, not too far from today, we will look back at this article and we’ll smile. We’ll smile because this time Africa didn’t stop fighting to tell her stories. She fought against poverty and inequality and for the dignity of her people. We will smile because not only did Africa fight, but she won. I saw this quote yesterday on Facebook and it sums up perfectly how I see Africa and what I think she would say if she could speak:
“If you claim to know me based on who I was a year ago, you don’t know me at all. My growth game is strong. Allow me to reintroduce myself.”
About the author: Martha Wakoli is an electrical engineer who is passionate about women empowerment, poverty alleviation and harnessing renewable energy as a means to accelerating rural electrification in Africa.
This article was first published on the blog Shaping African Conversations in 2015. Image credits: Fine Art America.