It’s time to tell your story.

It is time for a new African story to emerge. One whose narrative is not linked to ancestral spirits and their wishes, nor the colonial misdeeds done in the name of civilization. I believe that we are at a cross roads as a people, and continent. But ,there is a generation still holding on to the traditions of our ancestors, the resurrection of ancient spirits, and ways, and another caught between new ideals and beliefs of Christianity and western traditions.

These two have consistently pitted themselves against each other. On one hand clinging to an identity and heritage that was scrubbed clean and demonized by colonial masters in their quest to conquer black hearts and minds. On the other it is those who identify that there was some good to getting a “white missionary education”, after all it gave us medicine, roads, hospitals and some semblance of civility in our modern era.

I don’t believe there is anything wrong with either of this narratives. The problem I believe is trying to impose and cling on to these things for a generation that is beholden to none of them. Our ancestors and their rituals seem so far removed for the millennial born in a world that is more connected to each other than in any age before. Stories of rituals, and cultural practices no longer make sense to a child whose rituals and practices involve the boundary free social media. A child in Nairobi, Kigali is living the same experience and connection to a Sidney or Sao Paulo age mate. The rituals of our forefathers may hold no more value than trying to convert the local village witch-doctor to the use of internet as a medium of trade.

Africa no longer belongs to my generation, it belongs to my children and their world will not be defined by war, famine, corruption and neo-colonialism as has been the narrative of my peers across Africa. Theirs is going to be one of opportunity, individualism and the march of progress towards universality and a new world order.

The ways of the old world are gone, relegated now to myths and legends. It’s time for our generation to transform into better story tellers. Stories that carry the context of our generation.

There is an old ritual in the Shona culture of calling upon the spirits of the dead to return. The Kurova Guva ceremony, were the spirit of a loved is honored, beer brewed and songs and skits performed inviting them to return now to their people. It’s a beautiful and time honored ceremony, but I postulate that it’s time we as Africans allowed our dead to rest. They lived in their times, and it seems we spend more time honoring them once they die, than we do honoring the lives of those who must live in this age.

Why wait for death to honor your loved ones, in the belief that doing so will prevent some harm from befalling us. Isn’t it already harming us that we neglect family now, and neglect to craft narratives of our people today to the generation that has seemingly no identity in common with the Africa our ancestors spilt blood to liberate?

Life is for the living. To expect our children to be beholden to traditions that no longer make sense to their way of life is a losing battle. We are raising logical and rational children and at the same time trying to impose ways that no longer make sense to us, it makes us dishonest both to our ancestors and to our children. The cross roads is to choose to live life as Africa now demands, not what it was. The nostalgia of yester years no longer holds the same promise. We are past the post-colonial narrative of blaming all our ills on the white man, he too is gone and buried in the way of all men, the grave

As I read on one of my favorite blogs, Henry Thoreau states aptly,  that change begins when we finally choose to critically examine and then recalibrate the ill-serving codes and conventions handed down to us, often unquestioned, by the past and its power structures.  He calls for imagining nobler alternatives to the dicta and mindsets we have inherited:

In my short experience of human life, the outward obstacles, if there were any such, have not been living men, but the institutions of the dead. It is grateful to make one’s way through this latest generation as through dewy grass. Men are as innocent as the morning to the unsuspicious… I love man-kind, but I hate the institutions of the dead un-kind. Men execute nothing so faithfully as the wills of the dead, to the last codicil and letter. They rule this world, and the living are but their executors.”

Henry Thoreau 1862

overcoming grief, fear, chaos

For Cellulant 15th January 2019, the unimaginable happened. On a day unlike any we have ever experienced six brave souls lost their lives to terrorists bullets in the 14 Riverside Attack. While many where crippled that day, leaders in the building jumped into action saving numerous colleagues, rescuing many out of danger. Numerous leaders made the selfless sacrifice to run into danger, into the unknown, without a thought for their own safety.

The Cellulant leaders did not stop even when faced with worst of circumstances, they rallied around families and each other. Displaying immense bravery, courage and leadership they took over the care of survivors, families, programs, news to the very last detail. From 3pm that fateful afternoon till the very next week when we lay down our colleagues to their final resting place.

Grief can be crippling. The cold sweat at 2am, tossing , unable to shut off the anxious thoughts cruising through your mind. That feeling of calm before you open your eyes, and the crushing weight of pain that threatens to overwhelm you as soon as your feet hit the ground.

The one constant question in my mind has been how should we respond in the face of senseless terror ? What is the appropriate amount of anger at terrorists ? Should we resort to hatred and revenge ?

The answer for me came from the most unlikely place, at the burial of Kelvin. When the priest performing the last sermon and message talked about not being caught up with thoughts of revenge. That the only way to truly respond to terrorism and fear is to be fully alive to what you have been called to.

Each of the six had amazing stories of impact, and significance. Though tragically cut short their legacy continues to resonate with so many. Our response is actually the hardest thing to do right now, because fear and grief can be paralyzing and hijack any sense of the present.

Our response to terror requires us to wake up daily and not be overwhelmed by fear, uncertainty and grief. But to truly honor our brave six who ran a phenomenal race with courage, passion and impact it calls for us to live fully. To live lives of purpose, faithful to our individual calling, so on that day when we meet again in eternity we will have nothing more to give , we will have run our race, and fought a good fight.

In the face of bravery shown by the Cellulant Brave Six, we only have one choice, no matter the trials of today, your life is meant for a divine purpose, we have to live it. Our toughest act now is going to be in living and pursuing our purpose and ideals so we can defeat the senseless terror that threatens to paralyse us in constant fear.