In my culture generally for Africans history is such a key piece in the preservation of culture. Relics could decay or be stolen but a story, a metaphor or a song could live forever as long as it is sung and wherever either of the aforementioned is engaged it is like a communion with the Africans of old every single time, a kind of transportation to the days past so to speak and for Africans our ancestors have an especially unique spot carved in our lives and the direction they are to take.
To me this was a perfect system but only then when there were small clustering of populations that were very loyal to each other and intermingling was almost unheard of. But then the world changed, the colonialists arrived and everything became so restrictive, storytelling became harder, ritualistic songs were in some places even banned, the new religion of Christianity made its debut and everything was just harder to contain, the world now expanded over a larger area with larger ideas and other peoples . There was no preparing or even adequately dealing with the remarkable changes that ensued. Then some of the men even went to battle in the western world and birthed entirely new histories from their new experiences, they returned completely transformed, aliens to their own communities, which were by definition already suffocated and repressed.
And by then most couldn’t even communicate this to the others, which you can imagine could have proven very therapeutic after seeing firsthand the spoils of war. Here there was always a middle man, a conduit through which the history could be gifted to the new generation be it the grandparents telling the children the stories or the informal teachings before circumcision, manhood, adulthood whatever it may be, now the conduit’s role had completely been decimated.
Problem is the world had changed a great deal and the old structures that kept the relics and events of the past preserved had long been annihilated and deemed obsolete. Afterwards, the great independence waves wafted through most of the African states around generally the 50’s and 60’s with Egypt being the pioneers of that. This was certainly a beautiful time but because the literate were so few there was such a loss of history by all the recordings that didn’t occur at such a momentous event.
I’ve even read that my particular group, Bantu, was originally from Egypt who then traveled to Congo and further split into smaller groups with each taking their own eventual piece of real estate on this great continent. The great tragedy here is that in those treks and travels there was so much that must have occurred that was just lost because of lack of recording. In fact a significant amount of the African historical literature has been written by the white settlers which I think is so saddening because then so much has been lost in translation and interpretation.
This reinforced in me why we must all write down our stories lest someone write them for us and take their liberties with our truths. Winston Churchill once remarked that history will be good to him because he intends to write it which is exactly what we should aspire to. History isn’t even about popularity or skill in that only the good writers or the ones with impressive lives should write or be written about. In fact historically rich civilizations usually have many historical writings from a myriad of sources which is largely the point.
Having recently read about Brunel, the chief architect in transforming the transport scene in Britain I’ve seen the many publications that have written about him and his invention of the broad-gauge tracks, his engineering of the SS Great Britain, his aesthetic appeal in all his creations be they tunnels, railways or steam ships. But only in his personal manuscripts and biography can you truly see the world as he saw it, his motivations and inspiration for the steam locomotives he helped birth, his dismay when his broad-gauge tracks and steam ship weren’t fully adopted despite their genius and his impressive contribution.
These are moments we all have, given we are not all engineers, or always in the face of some great revolution but with every breath there is always history being made and how we view it, feel about it and get affected by it is really what makes history such an artistic enterprise. And the more we are out there writing the clearer the truth is about that particular time. The best part about writing is that you cut out the middle man and for me it would be like what I said a direct line for our descendants to hear our stories, musings, ideas and thoughts through our own voice.
It saddens me so that only celebrities, presidents and other people in the lime light are the only ones truly encouraged to write biographies because the honest story of anyone’s life story through their own unique eyes should really always be a best seller, at least it is in my book. So write your story because someone needs to tell it or rather someone needs to hear it.


7 thoughts on “Why everybody simply must have a diary

    1. Oh my you really are a vision of kindness,,,,thank you so much Kneal i really am humbled…*as she wipes a tear*
      I can;t thank you enough and you bet ill accept, this is such an honor all the more that it is from you,,,,i cant thank you enough.


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