I am told it’s called the “single-story syndrome”. Because people in the West have grown up hearing stories of Africans living in forests like animals, that’s the single-story narrative that’s developed in their brain-functions as individuals and is thus off-loaded onto all their systems. They are victims of the single-story syndrome. We can be sardonic about it like the student in a Western university. Remember him, the young man who was confronted with a bizarre question by a fellow student? The question: “So, is it true in Africa you live in trees?” The African student, in a matter-of-factly snap rejoinder: “Sure, your ambassador lives in a tree next to my home, as our neighbour”. It was meant as a joke on the boy of the West but you’d be surprised, it may’ve made no impression. Or maybe it did but the superiority-complexed boy did not wish to entertain it. Today you don’t get that kind of naively weird question, no. The media on, travel around and work in Africa has disabused some in the West of that crude picture. However, that they have effaced the picture of a continent marked only by skeletal children, stranded refugees, desperate victims of senseless wars, torturous tyrannies and the like is an altogether other matter. To be fair to them, though, our African brothers and sisters have done their own bit in compounding this picture. Many are African governments ready to kiss the toes of the West so as to solely depend on donor handouts. And those that have pauperised and oppressed their citizens to a point where their women with babies, adult men and youth are ready to risk death in burning deserts and boiling seas for a chance to reach that “all-too precious Western good life”. Such governments are sweet fodder for those in the West who wish to see Africa adorned in the cloth of Dark Continent. The ‘single-story plot’ flourishes in this fertility. Talking about the boy in the West, his story may represent two categories of fellow ‘Wests’. In the sense that there are those who genuinely have never known the truth of Africa being a continent of varieties. And in the sense of those who know the truth but are deliberately out to perpetuate the picture of a continent of only violence and misery. These latter include opinion influencers, passing themselves off as “experts on Africa”, who work in cahoots with sections of the media with a similar bent. Alternatively, the former may recruit sections of the latter with some kind of inducement. Behind all these, there may be multinational companies with interest in the ‘virginity’ of Africa, and with considerable influence in their governments, pushing the whole inducement load. For all these then, the ‘single-story jacket’ must fittingly clothe all African countries. Disclaimer; this is my personal opinion. But I would not be surprised if these different wicked forces are not behind the chutzpa of Tigray trying to forcefully break off from its parent Ethiopian federal government. The way the country has always pursued its independent path and is in the fast lane of progress, these forces may’ve been cut to the quick. Rwanda knows best these forces’ wrath, from the time she tried to chart an independent development track in 1994. Every effort she’s made to advance has been shot down mercilessly, ever since. Nothing she does is considered to be in good faith, per them. From the moment of the Genocide against the Tutsi, when Rwandans decided only forgiveness could engender unified development for a better future, these forces were up. No, it’s the new government’s ruse to carry out revenge acts without the watchful eye of the West, they shouted. Still, it came to pass, despite the misgivings of our ‘paterfamilias’! The Gacaca court system that resolved cases that’d have taken hundreds of years otherwise. Rwanda’s freeing and return of hostages held captive in the D.R. Congo by fugitive génocidaires. Umuganda that cleaned neighbourhoods’ surroundings and campaigns for the cleanliness of the whole country. The Nyakatsi programme that put every single Rwandan in habitable, hygienic dwellings from hazardous grass-thatches. And many more other programmes that won international claim in the end, in spite of the West’s prophesy of doom. With this country seeming to be readying to escape their ‘single-story jacket’, our paternal guardians are fretting. So, they are reaching for the smallest straw to pin down this country. Something simple like an allegiance of loyalty that a man and a woman can make for their union in nuptials is not that, they aver. It’s a tool of intimidation to scare the couple out of the thought of dissent! You who’d been disowned by your country and lived in exile as a stateless person, you remember how you jumped at the chance to join the RPF in its clandestine existence. Tell me, what was wrong with swearing allegiance to keep its activities secret in hostile conditions? And when you join any party, don’t you pledge allegiance to it? Our ‘single-jacket paterfamilias’, if you have nothing to say, never publish the fact.