Article written by Likeleli M. Monyamane.
I don’t think that it is a coincidence that on a day that my sister and I were talking about the “danger of a single story” I had the AHA moment that I am going to share in the following paragraphs.
My sister recently wrote a blog about Muammar Gaddafi. In the blog she mentioned how the narrative about Gaddafi’s tenure as a leader has always been one-sided and told only from the perspective of the West. My sister’s issue was that Gaddafi’s faults as a leader were much more highlighted than his successes because the former narrative benefits the West the most.
Fast forward a few hours after this conversation between my sister and I about her blog, about Gaddafi and about the importance of telling the African story; then boom! I had an AHA moment. I was sitting on the floor going through old copies of Destiny Magazine with the intention of cutting up some of them to use the material for my vision board. As I was paging through one of them it suddenly dawned on me that I couldn’t think of any other magazine that told so many stories, page after page, about the successes of women in all spheres of life, as well as the impact of the influence that they have. These women come from all kinds of backgrounds, they are succeeding in all kinds of activities and they make all kinds of different life choices (to have kids and not to have kids, to work full-time or to be stay-at-home moms, etc.).
I suddenly realized that before Destiny Magazine, no other publication (that I’d been exposed to) was telling the woman’s story from this perspective.
Before Destiny Magazine I used to read You Magazine. I took an interest in it because of the cross-word puzzles, and then I started enjoying the fictional stories that people would send to the magazine for publication (these inspired by imagination greatly and this is how I learned to write fictional essays); then, when I was a bit older, I started enjoying the real-life stories (usually inspiring stories about a tragedy happening and someone overcoming it). It was a good magazine. However, it wasn’t as intentional as Destiny Magazine in telling a certain story about women (a story of success, influence, ambition) for a specific purpose (to tell the story of a woman from a different perspective).
Something else that impresses me about Destiny Magazine is that it doesn’t try to dictate to you what the ideal picture of a strong, influential, ambitious and powerful woman is. As I mentioned earlier, the articles covered are real and diverse. I just re-read one about modern women who have to decide whether or not to embrace African cultures. It was such an enlightening experience to read it, especially at this point of my life (I just got married 4 months ago) because it doesn’t seek to tell you as an African woman to either choose to embrace the culture or to reject it; it simply tells the story from all sides and leaves you, the reader, to make a choice.
I have written once before about how disappointed I was that the magazine featured women who wear weaves/wigs and yet it had published an article about natural hair. I’d felt that this was contradictory; however, looking back, I think missed the point of their message. Theirs is to tell the full story. The story of what it means to be beautiful as a person, whether or not you relax your hair or maintain natural hair. And the freedom that each woman can choose her own aesthetic.
I salute platforms like Destiny Magazine which have given women a voice, and a platform to share their stories for the benefit of other women. I don’t think it caters for ALL women but it really doesn’t have to. It caters very well for its target market. It’s now up to us to solve the problem of telling the stories that remain untold.
If you have been following former president of South Africa’s, Thabo Mbeki’s, facebook page you will realize that he has decided to break his silence about some of the things that have been said about his presidency in order to tell his side of the story. So many people responded positively to his decision to tell his side, because people are genuinely hungry to hear the other side, not just the side that belongs to the loudest voice.
One more thing that highlights the importance of Africa to tell its own story is how Times magazine published a story years ago about how Africa was going downhill; a few years later it published a very positive story about “Africa Rising” and created (or added to) this vibe about how Africa is the continent of the future. Lately though, I have been reading articles (not necessarily from Times magazine ) that seem to suggest that the hype about “Africa Rising” was overrated because Africa has more problems to fix before it can be able to capitalize on its opportunities and to sustain whatever growth was foreseen.
I believe that if the story had been told from the African perspective in the first place then we wouldn’t be yo-yoing about the future of Africa. The future of Africa is clear – more and more leaders are rising up, rogue governments are not sustainable and will fall eventually, change is happening and we – the people of Africa – will sustain it until it benefits the poor and the marginalized. This is what we will strive for in our different corners until Kingdom come. There will never be a time when Africa is hopeless. This is our story and we need to tell it in our own words.
“Until the lion tells his story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”- African Proverb.