The world of 24 hour news cycles, that has compacted and narrowed world events-stories to just a few words and characters. It is hard to find a captivating piece of narrative work, that ‘bares the soul’ of any interesting topic at hand.
Where you have such captivating pieces of immersion story telling-in a few up market magazines, not many readers will have the time or the patience to read a 10,000 worked piece. For those with the interest and patience, it is worthwhile.
It is in such long form story telling, that one gets a real glimpse of the people-the ordinary man or woman living a simple existence, but working hard for a better self!
They give a break from the usual politician, celebrity centred, fast paced news that has become the main menu, of most media.
Most of mainstream journalism, mainly for the need to break even and stay afloat, has long discarded narrative journalism.
Few magazines have retained this type of journalism: The New Yorker, FASTCOMPANY RollingStone, Vanity Fair, and sometimes New African, etc, most times, come up with captivating narratives that are a must read.
Some people, like the managers of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, nevertheless, still think this genre of non fiction story telling important, (though having fallen out of favour in most of mainstream media) and offer seminars and other training opportunities dedicated to its promotion.
I got thinking about all this thing of nonfiction narrative story telling and what it offers, a couple of weeks ago when I came across Phillip Gourevitch’s “Letter from Rwanda” in the New Yorker of July 11.
His compelling long form story about Rwandan bikers, got me wondering how ordinary people, can best tell their unique stories, that holds the interest of the reader out there, who may know little about a specific people or setting of the story without boring them with official info.
The constant flow of information/news that we get in our mediums, more often does not tell you what you really want to know because of the careful wording of a spokesman here, an expert there etc.
Sometimes, the life of the ordinary man’s struggles is also more often than not told by such distant, out of touch groupings and international organisations. But all that they say lacks the immersion of the narrative writer.
The story of Rwanda’s cycling TEAM RWANDA, is but one of the many transformative events and processes that are taking place in Rwanda, but are rarely captured on the international radar of information and are carefully ignored by the misinformation crew out there.
Take a simple look at the upcoming young and talented artistes that we have in Rwanda. They may not be doing as well compared to some in the region, but when you get to sit down with them and hear how they are juggling different tasks, like school, which mostly entails raising school fees and trying to make an impact as musicians, that’s when you will appreciate them. Narrative story telling can help popularise their stories.
The story of the cycling team tells a lot. Genocide survivors, children who had lost hope and become street urchins-Mayibobo- have gone places thanks to the cycling Team Rwanda.
And several, are now on a path to global stardom, with some already achieving a level of national prominence. These are the people who really matter. But most times, they are ignored.
Popular social media platforms like twitter, facebook, google+, may not offer room for a narrative story, but offer great opportunities for information sharing for such people.
Blogsphere is a social media platform that best offers a good outlet for narrative story telling, beyond traditional journalism that is still focused on it.
With increased internet penetration and education, social media-blogs, are platforms that ordinary people that are not necessarily journalists; especially youths who are more tech-savvy, can exploit to document the great work they are doing, which in many instances may not find space or airtime in some of our traditional media.