We Must Be Able to Tell Our Own Stories

There are many realities that describe the human condition. One of them is that life is unfair and often times than not, bad things happen to good people and vice-versa.

There are many realities that describe the human condition. One of them is that life is unfair and often times than not, bad things happen to good people and vice-versa.

There are some realities that I accept, and others I cannot stand. Of the latter is how Africa’s history has been misrepresented by various self-serving actors, and tremors of these consequences can still be felt today.

I remember questioning my history teacher of the validity of John Hanning Speke’s ‘discovery’ of the source of the Nile. Did he come to this conclusion through consultations with the local inhabitants and if he was truly the first to discover this source, did this mean that for all these thousands of years, the Africans who had lived across this stretch of water bodies were clueless to this?

What if a different version of history indicated that the discovery of the source of the Nile River was actually at another juncture, discovered by say, an old African healer in the 16th century (way before Speke came into the picture)? Would this have held true today?

If this were the case and this information were passed down from generation to generation through oral literature and finally documented in written literature – think just how different our history would be. The point of my slight rant, is that we must start telling our own stories.

As Africans, as Rwandans – we must start taking charge of telling and shaping our realities to the world out there, and not relying on others to do so for us.

I say this because I chanced upon a Tweet by some self-proclaimed journalist a couple of days ago. He was not only was spewing incorrect information regarding an issue in Rwanda, it was the sheer arrogance too with which he did it, and complete haughtiness in how he engaged with Rwandans who were correcting him on the matter.

This particular issue was on the Presidential Third Term, which our President has stated (in local and international media) he has no interest in pursuing, and has no wish to amend the Rwandan Constitution in order to do so.

This journalist however, read an article on the issue and proceeded to infer that the Rwandan President indicated a run for third term. This is a perfect example of a skewed story on Rwandan leadership being told by some self-serving individual, with clearly no moral or ethical considerations for his misguided communication to the digital world.

Incensed is what I felt at this point. But better than just being mad at this unfairness, I realized it is better to do something about it.

It is better to start playing a part in the story-telling of Rwanda – of her achievements, her hopes and most importantly –her future.

Luckily, this is something that is being done by Rwandans abroad and within the country, evidenced by emerging media, literature and collection of Rwandan voices. We must be able to tell our own stories and indeed, this has begun.

deempyisi@googlemail.com

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