Reflection of a Mandela Washington Fellow: Are Africans Making Africa Vulnerable?

Storytelling is a potent tool for civic leaders. This is because it gives us the ability to narrate our story of change as we work to influence people and policies towards collective growth. With storytelling, we also get a chance to create a true picture and peddle to others the great potentials that our communities possess. Through effective storytelling, we are able to help people see beyond the peripheral of issues around us. At such, we can challenge existing perceptions and build positive expectations while giving others a chance to see the other side of the single stories that build their perceptions.


It’s been three weeks of a great learning adventure at the great Wagner College, New York. And here is one of thoughts I have had to reflect on: ‘young Africans have to be more assertive about the African story that we share’. When we share our stories, it has the power to do either of two things. One is to make Africa vulnerable, susceptible to pity and in dire need of more aids. The other option is to reveal African’s potentials, diversity and strength; one that is only in need of sustainable and progressive collaboration as suggested in the United Nations’ International Partnership goal. Of a truth, the ball is in the court of every young African who has a chance to tell the African story.  

Yes, Africa is full of challenges; malaria and HIV/AIDS, selfish leadership and terrorism. In the past 4 years, I have worked in marginalized communities and with vulnerable populations such as children, women and persons with disabilities, promoting social inclusion. I have seen many societal challenges and lots of issues we have to deal with, but these challenges are everywhere around the globe. So, no matter what others think of Africa or any of her communities, the best response is not a fight. It is only an opportunity to tell the real African story: one of hope, strength and resilience. 

Finally, despite all of the challenges we may be faced with, (in view of the aid and investment received by Africa), I am convinced that Africans carry the solution to Africa. And our youth are the custodian of the future. In the words of the great icon of a progressive Africa, Mandela: “sometimes, it falls upon a generation to be great…we can be that generation.” So let us stop narrating the African story submissively nor aggressively; it’s time to be more assertive. Fighting the single story only makes us more vulnerable; let’s share a better story of hope, and in no time, the world will come to know who we truly are.

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