Africa is no doubt the world’s second-largest and second-most populous continent blessed with human and natural resources plus rich cultures and traditions.
How come it appear all the negative things happen in Africa? How come it seems that nothing good can come out of Africa?What is Africa’s biggest problem?
Maybe it has to do with our lack of identity or awareness of our history, spiritual and cultural heritage as Africans. Africans derive joy and false sense of fulfilment trying to attach themselves to the white, maybe for status purposes – thereby abandoning their own.
Most Africans don’t feel successful until they relocate or spend most of their lives abroad. At the mention of greener pastures, African’s think it can only happen abroad.
Even the dark skin has been denigrated. Black has been used to describe too many derogatory and unfortunate situations that it has polluted our minds against our own heritage. All negative portrayals are black.
The Cambridge English Dictionary says silver lining is an advantage that comes from a difficult or unpleasant situation. As an example, it says when things look BLACK, there’s always a silver lining. When things look black?
But how did we arrive at the conclusion to perceive and portray the colour black as a representation of bad and evil? Is it a psychological manipulation by the media, institutions or people that control the media? Or is it our inability to tell our stories with our contributions to humanity?
When a black person born to either British or American parents, for example, commits a crime, he is called an African, but when he wins gold at the Olympics, heis called an American or Briton.
When foreign media want to report about Nigeria or another African country, they go to the slums and shout loudly, “Reporting from Lagos-Nigeria or Nairobi-Kenya”. And to be honest, if you’re from Lagos or Nairobi, you will be at a loss if that is actually your city. Why is that?
Is Africa a victim of Fake News or Corrupt Media according to President Donald J Trump?
Africans seem to have given away their power to the people who have defined us albeit wrongly. We have let other people control our images and culture that they have defined us by telling our story in whatever way they please. But is the story told about us truly who we are?
“Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture,” said Allen Ginsberg. It then means that it truly matters who controls the media.
We can change this narrative by learning to tell our stories, revive our culture and control our image. This can only be achieved by investing and embracing the creative industry.
It’s not by name calling, hate speech against the white or fighting. NO! It is by promoting the creative industry in Africa and controlling it. It is by packaging our true values, cultural and spiritual heritage as a brand and selling it to the world now that everyone has become a publisher.
Like Chancellor Williams said, as long as we rely on white historians to write black history for us, we should keep silent about what they produce.
Nineteenth century and early twentieth century European colonial historians and historical writers created the impression that Africa was a dark continent and a historical tabula-rasa.
In a series of lectures in 1830-31, G.W.F. Hegel, a German philosopher, gave only passing attention to Africa, which he said was no historical part of the world because it has no movement or development to exhibit.
It took the efforts of eminent African historians like Sabiru Biobaku and Kenneth Dike, working with oral traditions, to change that narrative and gives prominence to what is today known as African history as told by Africans.
Until the late father of the African novel, Chinua Achebe, wrote Things Fall Apart, Africa was seen largely as the “heart of darkness” from the prism of a Eurocentric novel of that title written by Joseph Conrad. Achebe told the African side of the story.
We must, therefore, fight as a people to change the narrative about Africa using the weapon of our creativity and human capital which we have in abundance. We must package Africa as a brand for our children so that they can confidently face the future.
Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter, says a popular African proverb.
That means that until Africans learn how to control the images and the culture and communicate that effectively with the world outside by standing their ground, the world will never know their true worth.
Do you know that over 85 percent of African youths who die in their thousands every year trying to cross the Atlantic into Europe believe there is gold or cash on the streets of Italy or Germany? They do not know that my Kigali is as beautiful, if not more beautiful, as Rome.
Why is that so? Because the hunter has told his beautiful story while the lion was asleep. But not anymore!
The West have, through their dominance of the media space, successfully defined themselves and defined us and the perception they created has now become our reality.
Africa is original; our stories are legendary, told in unique fashions across Africa. Africans don’t just sing, our songs tell stories; we don’t just act, our dramas are full of learning, our poets are crusaders. We are different, storytelling is our culture, it is our duty to reverse this possession and mental occupation by investing in the creative industry today.
Hugh Masekela said, “I have got to where I am in life not because of something I brought to the world but through something I found – the wealth of African culture.”
This is what I am talking about. The wealth of African culture. What happened to it?
Have you heard about a Roman Catholic priest, Reverend Father Jude ChiadikaOkoli, who uses ancient African flute to praise God in Awka, Anambra State, in Nigeria?
This man of God has changed the narrative to the point that many have realised that our culture is unique and has nothing to do with idol worshipping; what happened was simply giving a dog a bad name to kill it.
Imagine a well-developed creative industry with 1 million African artists only at the global stage doing different things! That is the change I am talking about. Is it possible? Yes, it is. Why am I sure? Because by 2030 Africa will have nearly 1 billion people under 35 years, and possibly with the right investments in the creative industry, the possibilities are limitless.
We may have yielded control for a long time but there is a popular saying in Australia that the best time to have planted a tree was twenty years ago and the next time is now.
FelaAnikulapo-Kuti, said, “I must identify myself with Africa. Then I will have an identity.”
What is your identity? You are African or you want to be African? Who is telling your story? You as the lion or them as the hunter? Have you ceded control so that the same one who told the story of your forefathers and fathers will tell your story? God forbid!
Post COVID-19, the world may not be the same. Africa’s future and development will lie mostly in the creative industry with its massive opportunities with revenue that will be unimaginable.
I am talking about the creative industry; I am talking about content creation; I am talking about content distribution; I am talking about warehousing of African voice and data; I am talking about the future.
Believe it or not, the creative industry will outlast several other industries.
I may be a dreamer but I know I am not alone. Like Rev Father Jude Okoli and so many Africans are changing the narratives, let us all embrace who we are, build a solid African community that is devoid of negativity, false stories and stereotyping.
Wake up Africans no matter where you may be. Let us collectively change the narrative. Remember, before 1960 Dubai was a desert. It took only one man, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to change the face of Dubai.
Let us promote and protect our culture and heritage through the production of original and quality content in films, documentaries, music, comedy, poetry, fashion, tourism and so many other areas that tell the beautiful story of Africa. Form collaborations amongst yourselves, with Africans in the diaspora and non-Africans. Influence them!
Who else can tell our stories better than us? No one, absolutely no one.
Now, we have an online resource and entertainment user generated distribution platform that is dedicated to African content only and is free. We have Ogelle and Ogelle is African.
Yes, the competition of changing the African narrative will be tough, especially against media companies that have very large war-chest and in some cases supported by institutions unknown, but we have great advantage and that is in the power of our creativity and the capacity to create and to overcome. By this we will create authentic, original, captivating content that will evoke emotions of our people towards the right direction.
This is my hope for Africa.
Thank you for reading and please share with family and friends.
Osita Oparaugo esq, Founder of Ogelle