Understanding and Owning Africa's Reality

Only Africa can tell its stories best. A common phrase that is batted around often, but rarely spared a second thought. Even in our ultra enthusiastic celebration (and defense) of her on Twitter feeds and Facebook posts, we seem to understand only a slither of her power. Our energies seem invested on donning her name as a scarf, a small piece of comfort for temporary times, instead of regarding her as a crown, wearing her brazenly, conspicuous for all to see. We are fast to rush to her defense when maligned by international media houses, sensational in our polemics, but unavailable to celebrate the victories of her people, and too self-absorbed to realize the tales of life, love and honor being spun around us every day on our very own soil. This is a level of apathy that has shortchanged us for too long, until recently, when the movement to take charge of our own narrative has gained traction across the continent and importantly so among the burgeoning youth.

So, what is Africa’s reality?

Simply, it’s her vibrant melange of cultures; her beautiful blend of traditional and modern life. It’s her fiery, creative and enthusiastic youth, larger by number than any other continent’s. It’s her manifold bounty in art, cuisine, music, dance and fashion. It’s her ability to regenerate herself with the changing times, and her resilience in the face of perilous political, economical and social woes that many had thought should have led us down the road to perdition. It’s her academic and intellectual vitality, her growing influence on modern technology, literature, science and the arts, and her contribution to the posse of world-class scholars, professionals and leaders. These are her stories. To understand Africa is to tell these stories in truth, in understanding, in vitality and in hope.

Understanding and owning Africa’s cultural reality in my view, is listening to it. It means listening to its rhythms as they reverberate in contemporary African societal roles, moral outlooks, political views and economic pursuits. It’s to watch the waves of change that happen in these spaces from their source. Conscious appraisal of our culture; what informs our thought processes, our actions and, yes, our biases; will empower us to take the helm in steering Africa towards the progressive, diversified and established future she so deserves. This understanding will be the wind beneath our wings as we call for authentic African solutions on high school stages and diplomatic podiums, on Instagram feeds and television screens. For us to own our reality, we must be present for it and in it, taking responsibility for whatever happens within it and unreservedly offering ourselves towards its betterment. 

Just like a farmer invests tender care on his crop, knowing first the nuances that define its existence then researching widely on the conditions and resources needed for its prosperity, so must we explore the things that make Africa herself for us to take care of her and let her flourish.

by: Christelle Munene, Kenya

by: Christelle Munene, Kenya

Young African Think'rs