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Owning Your Story

Updated: May 20, 2022

A significant power will be unlocked when young African girls develop a critical eye for viewing African culture across its multifaceted forms.

The Paradigm

Now more than ever, stories are playing increasingly critical transformative roles across various Black communities. From slavery to globalization, each chapter of Black history blows a breeze of change and inspiration for Black people. Over many centuries, African pride has been molded by uncontrived stories, experiences, and values accepted and experienced across Black communities.

Despite the undefeated power of stories in changing societies, little has changed with who tells Black people's stories. As the ancient African proverb goes, “Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter”. In many cases, the Black community has not written and shared enough of our own stories with the rest of the world, a practice that has rendered the ownership of the stories to the oppressors. The key to the potential of stories has been handed to the wrong hands that have consistently misused African stories as weapons of shame, destruction, and oppression. This myopic representation of stories has birthed a tainted image of Black people in the world. This image purposefully neglects the unquantifiable wealth, unbreakable unity, historical developments, and ever-dynamic cultures across Black communities. For many years, the “hunters'' have perverted Africa’s most remarkable stories to bring mighty calamities that have since challenged and changed how Africans view, use, and own our powerful stories.

At the same time, cultural negligence has been the fastest spreading epidemic amongst young Africans. The tantalization made by the empty promises of globalization has robbed countless African cultural heritage and ushered them into emptiness and vulnerability brought by unchecked cultural interferences. As a result, the once inspiring, uniting, well-founded, and historically consistent story has been perverted to that which is highly diluted with inconsistent and culturally incorrect stories from “globalized” young Africans. The unattended conflict between culture and globalization has made embracing Africa's story, particularly for Black people, an intricate act.

Many young African girls have been the glorifiers of cultural oversight through reckless and unchecked adoption of westernized standards of existence. Cultural elements such as dressing style, interactions, and norms have been highly skewed towards the western standards, thus failing to reflect the African way of life, making them rather impractical and misfitting. Being the marginalized group in the continent, African women have an extra responsibility to harness their story into weapons further to fight for gender equality, economic development, and inclusion. This grand desire calls for a holistic embracement of the African culture and ownership of African stories, particularly by Africans themselves.

Position of Black Women in African Stories

African women have played a consequential role in shaping the African narrative. From engaging in political struggles for independence, bringing ground-breaking scientific revolutions, and raising the next generation of African leaders, women have earned a special place in Africa’s history. They have written many of its constructive chapters. By telling the stories, women such as Chimamanda Ngozi, Wangai Maathai, Zora Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Maya Angelou shaped the world’s intellectual, environmental, and scientific realms.

The unresisted power of story and culture has gone a long way in planting seeds of hope in the hearts of many young African girls on what embodying African culture can amount to. It is undebatable that the revolutionary stories written by Black women have had a pronounced positive input on reshaping the African continent; nonetheless, a lot has to be done to ensure that young Black girls embrace their culture and stories and, most importantly, take pride in them. By owning and embracing the culture and story, the young Black girls can see the world through different lenses, lenses of equality, opportunity, inclusion, and most importantly, advancement. African girls can easily pave the way for a well-founded cultural identity derived from undivided ownership of the story and culture.

By focusing on reconstructing the narrative of the continent through positively telling their stories, young African women will be positioned to champion their culture while leaving a positive mark for upcoming generations.

Stories touch, connect, unite, heal and encourage. On the other hand, stories kill, dis-empower, colonize and blind one's eyes from seeing current Africa to seeing an unrealistic continent culturally perverted and historically unfounded.

Why Should Black Girls Care

A significant power will be unlocked when young African girls develop a critical eye for viewing African culture across its multifaceted forms. Furthermore, an overall embodiment of the culture and stories will shape and sharpen the perception of Africa and challenge African girls to partake in vast political, economic, environmental, and social continental affairs.

With greater reasons to reclaim their ever-challenging positions in Africa’s history, young Black girls have the opportunity to harness the power of storytelling into that of liberation. The scope of freedom that comes with cultural embracement is comprehensive, and one can shape their future without jeopardizing their identity. Black girls should highly care for the undebatable power that comes with the transformative power of storytelling and culture. They should seize all opportunities that magnify their cultural heritage and solidify their passion for their stories. Above all, deliberate efforts to repaint the torn African narrative should be re-visited and re-imagined using calculated approaches to sustainably build an established image that honors and represents Africans' image, struggles, innovations, values, and victories. Furthermore, through stories, African girls will de-chain from the fast-spreading cultural negligence and story oversight epidemic.

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