Assalam Aleykum Warahmatullahy Wabarakatuh
‘Until the Lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter.’
When I came up with the idea of filming Changing the Narrative, I was adamant on presenting to the world the Africa that I had come to love, adore and appreciate. I have not always been proud of Africa the way I am today. In fact, before I started my course on International Relations, I was one of the many Africans who saw this continent as one that was beyond repair. I genuinely saw it as a dark continent. If you were to ask me who my favourite authors were, you would notice that all the names came from the Western part of the globe. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, but in my situation, I genuinely thought that African authors had nothing to offer and that western authors always had something genuine to say and so a better way for me to spend my time. That being said, it wasn’t that I preferred western literature to African literature, it was that I completely dismissed African literature even before giving it a chance. I would think to myself, ‘what do they know about this issue, they’re from Africa just like me, they probably have nothing of value to add.’
And it didn’t stop there. My travel and shopping list was full of countries and items from the west; Paris, America, The UK. These were the places I aspired to travel to, because what did Africa have to offer other than famine, hunger and political instability. What was there to see that I hadn’t already seen in my own country? No. To dream of travelling around Africa was to dream small. It’s like wanting to see your neighbour’s house when it looks exactly like yours! ‘Dream big’ we were always told. However to me for some reason, that meant aspiring to Western heights.
I remember in my last year of high school as the concept of University drew closer, I was extremely focused on getting into an American University or one in the UK, because what’s better than that? Even when my teachers spoke of great Kenyan Universities, I would simply think to myself, that’s not for me, that’s simply not dreaming big enough. In my mind I was completely brainwashed to believe that West was best. I even dismissed my own culture and heritage. For the longest time, I was completely against learning my ethnic languages because I simply felt that that was taking a step back from civilization. Even dressing in my cultural attire was a huge problem for me because I had such a negative perception towards it.
But boy was I wrong. The irony of my University experience is that I actually ended up going to the United States International University of Africa, to which I was completely against the idea. Not because it was not a University in the West, but because at that moment I genuinely wanted to attend a Kenyan University, and in my mind, this University wasn’t Kenyan enough. (I know, I’m so confusing but let’s just roll with it). However, little did I know that this decision would be one of the most important and pivotal of my life.
Through my university experience, I blossomed in all aspects of my life. I experienced a paradigm shift in terms of how I saw the world and in turn how I saw Africa. I go to meet different people from all over Africa and the rest of the world, and experience various cultures that really opened my eyes to how beautiful and rich this continent is. It made me appreciate my heritage and culture, my kinky hair and melanated skin. It made me appreciate my roots and history and gave me a new found respect for where I come from.
|Me embracing my culture at my Uni’s culture week 🙂|
Granted that Africa does experience a myriad of challenges, it is also where calm and chaos live side by side. I have definitely found a love for this continent that I never knew was in me and I feel responsible to share this new found appreciation with the rest of the world. Because I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who was chained to this fallacy of Africa as darkness and hopelessness. In my opinion, young people in Kenya today definitely have some level of awareness about Kenya and even Africa. But I doubt they understand how important and essential it is for them to learn about their history, heritage and culture and be proud of who they are and where they come from.And so I hope that this short film can inspire Africans and non Africans to learn about all that Africa has to offer, and dismiss all these false narratives that we as a people keep being bombarded with. I hope that this can be our first step to changing the narrative.
Ps. If you haven’t watched the short film, make sure you do!As always I love hearing from you guys!xoxo