From the beginning of humankind, we’ve been telling and listening to stories. The ancient man passed down his knowledge and life experience to his offspring by storytelling — during a night fire camp time, the next generation learned about their ancestry and heritage via oral history. We see the power of storytelling with Netflix’s The Crown winning 21 Emmy Awards nominations and went on to win solid 7 of them. It’s also the same reason why Black Panther hit over a billion dollar mark in box office.
Importance of Storytelling-
But why is storytelling so important? The human being brain is hardwired to retain narrative stories. Our thoughts, beliefs, and principles can be easily altered by storytelling. As it works in individual, it can go on to form and lead the norm of a society. Narrative stories exert significant influence on the human behavioral and thought pattern. Stories shape memories, emotions, and judgment. The values of cultures are seen through the lens of stories, and personal identity can be altered through stories.
During the medieval era, Africans used storytelling to pass on experiences, knowledge, and history to the next generation. Spiritual and physical phenomena, universal mysteries, and all forms of cultural norms are communicated with the use of stories. Indeed, storytelling is an integral part of the African society, and our storytelling trait remains unchanged.
We know that the two story-based films referenced above are very different not necessarily because one tells the tale of British monarchy and the other tells about African legend, but apparently because one is realistic, and the other is unreal.
Real or not, however, the Wakanda story almost does the same job. It somehow lifts people’s spirits and helps idealize what an ancient African State must have been like in its full glory.
New Africa’s Campaign on Storytelling-
There have been several campaigns for Africans to avoid airing out its dirty laundry. People oftentimes call out the media when it sensationalize negative stories about Africa. Some argue that telling positive stories is good for attracting foreign investments, and some said it helps us embrace who we are. The question is why do we need only focusing on positive stories to embrace who we are? How is this sensible?
We don’t need to hide negative stories, we only need to go dig out all positive stories about Africa that had been hidden, and throw them all in the mix. Why do we belabour ourselves on reversing negative image of Africa when we could have been busy finding the lost positive ones as well as creating new ones? Why is it important to us to portray to the western world that we are good when we ought to be proving just that to ourselves? Why do we covet international respect, when we give ourselves none?
There are so many fascinating stories to tell about Africa and its people. Of course we are beautiful, strong, resourceful, and proud, but we are also envious of one another, and tactless even when it’s in our own interest to do so. For example, the disunity we see in tribal and religious divisions has been Africa’s problem since the days of Thebeans. Our sense of processing the concept of unity it’s indeed one singular genom that ought to evolve.
There are many moving African stories. Ancient African stories like the story of Thebes; the empire of Monomotapa, modern day Zimbabwe; the story of Oduduwa, a Yoruba king; the story of Yalla Mbodj of Senegal; the story of Queen Nzingha of Ndongo, modern day Angola, and many more- will help the younger generations of Africans touch their ancestors. However, telling some stories and hiding others is dangerous for every purpose why stories should be told.
USAIG is a media organization that focuses on African immigrants in the United States. We offer community content and promote African identity. We support personal and professional development of Africans and immigrant community in the US. We consult on cultural based training focusing on inter-generational relationships between African youths, parents and community, and we facilitate diversity and inclusion training workshops.