Hello. Its me again. I have been wondering if my writing will make sense today. Week 1 of the WinterABC festival is closing, so i thought i should talk about African storytellers and their role in keeping our history alive.
Nigeria has one of the best national anthems in Africa. While it is exclusively associated to Nigeria, i learnt that a Ghanian helped to compose this anthem. Komla Dumor, the late BBC journalist, beautifully told this story in one of his ted talk presentations.
Here in Zambia, we know that president Mwanawasa picked Rupiah Banda, a retired politician to be his Vice President. It had to take Banda’s death for someone to explain that Mwanawasa was honouring his promise after Banda helped to deliver the Eastern Province in a general election.
Storytellers have the responsibility of telling the whole story of what happened in the past; good or bad. They are obligated to tell us of who did what, and why they did it. They are required to remove themselves and only express emotions with which the story they are telling carries.
The other role that storytellers should fulfill is that of bringing to light other names and events that were originally omitted in recorded and, dare I say, controlled official accounts. For example, who are the organisers of the half naked march by women who protested against white minority rule during Zambia’s struggle for independence? Who hosted the meeting that came up with the decision to march half naked?
Finally, storytellers play the role of a marriage officer who harmonizes the past with the present to influence the future. They draw lessons from history and show us how those lessons apply in today’s situations. For example, an oppressed people will always find a way to rise against the establishment with whatever they have, therefore, those in authority do well to learn from the past few if they are to be successful.
Lastly, in eulogizing someone whose life impacted others, people have said things like, “the deceased still lives in us through their works done” or “the spirit of Madiba lives in us”. The responsibility to keep history alive lies with the audience. The past is in the past and will remain a story until we draw inspiration and courage from those historic events and characters to start our own revolutions.
Storytellers help history repeat itself in a good way.