Which side of the fence shall we sit on? #Writivism2016 Day 1

By Kirabo Byabashaija (Published originally at My Wandering Journey)

I’ve often been irked by the incessant need to portray one sided stories. This is often done by some western media outlets in an effort to grab that sexy headline. Some of our own media houses have been accused of this as well. As a result of this, I have become quite attached to a certain phrase – my favorite actually: the narrativeneeds to change. There is a growing number of people who believe that it needs changing.

But what is this narrative and who defines it? Are we simply a product of our upbringing and them of theirs and thus casting the blame onto someone else would seem a futile venture? Does the narrative lend itself to culture, therefore redefining and molding it into something else?

Permit me to paint a picture: some midwives will tell you intriguing stories about the labour ward. About the different ways we react during childbirth. About how some women are encouraged by their caregivers (read: mothers, aunts or sister) to let it out while others are gravely discouraged from uttering too loud a sound. If we are saying that at the root, a lot of us are either direct or indirect products of missionary schools, then why such opposite reactions to a phenomenon that elicits pain thresholds akin to little else.

Has the fact that the missionary schools (affectionately dubbed colonial schools) drummed into our heads: e is for effort and notemputa or b is for boat and not baba; turned us into a society of mindless drones that are constantly bobbing our heads to the beat of our master? With the absence of a master (read: independence), we then turn to fill the void with constant comparison to others even though the concept of living by the sea is foreign to us.

Has our authenticity been strongly enriched by the advent of colonial education? An education system that comprised of more than class instruction but also included ‘etiquette’ (for lack of a better word). Or did it heavily dilute all that initial wealth of experience that we carried with us to our first day of school; those experiences that were drummed out us by those we assume did not know better. Have we now become aliens in our own culture, the Bri-dans

An argument was raised that the only culture that has been forgotten, is that that was not liked to begin with. You will not teach your descendants, that which you do not want to associate with yourself. Perhaps the sidda mukyalo movement began with those who preferred to leave the village and everything in it behind.

Woudn’t it be remiss of us not to mention the plus side of colonial education, the perks and benefits would result in a long tiresome list that I’d rather not start – but feel free to highlight some that should be on this list in the comments section (see what I did there?).

Right now, looking back at our histories – a lot of us feel short changed, and maybe rightly so. But would we truly say that we would have been better off, if they hadn’t come? Would our popular movements today have been accepted in authentic African traditional society?

Today, I learned that the narrative is not a one-sided feature.
No. It is indeed, quite multifaceted.

These thoughts are as a result of listening to the explosive panel discussion that was at last evening’s book launch: Duc in Altum by Andrea Stultiens at Day 1 of Writivism 2016. The panelists included Rebecca Rwakabukoza, Andrea Stultiens, Dr Connie Nshemereirwe and Eria Nsubuga.

Becky and Andrea

The Writivism Festival is an initiative that brings together established writers from the African Continent and beyond.

It will be happening this week (22nd to 28th of August) at the Uganda Museum.
Monday – Thursday: 6pm – 8pm;
Friday: 12pm – 8pm;
Saturday: 10am – 8pm;
Sunday: 12pm – 8pm.