ken wiwa...

...has a great new article online.

"This morning, I read a Zambian proverb that advises, 'The worlds of the elders do not lock all the doors; they leave the right door open.'

I don’t know which of the 70 languages or 72 ethnic groups of Zambia it comes from. And I didn’t imbibe the tribal wisdoms of my own elders from sitting under a tree in my village. Like most Africans today, I didn’t grow up in a village or a rural setting.

No, the African proverbs that feed my nostalgia for the calm perspective of the past come in a daily dose from my African cellphone, courtesy of Twitter.

Social media have enabled us to bypass the limitations and biases of traditional media. Here in Nigeria, websites and blogs such as SaharaReporters.com routinely publish stories no newspaper would have printed in the past. As they are everywhere else, the old orders are struggling to contain the shifting shape of this irreverent new movement.

The question I keep asking myself is how these cultural networks will engage with the old political order. Do any of my colleagues in government have the vision and conceptual tools to channel this youthful energy to the common good?"


Lately, I've been thinking a lot about this question of youth and the changing face of politics (which has unfolded quite dramatically in recent weeks).

I am not really political, not to say that I am not interested in politics but rather am agnostic in these matters. It is all too messy and complicated and I am not capable of asserting certainty in ever-uncertain times. Let the politicians and pundits do the dirty work; I'd rather be writing (or filming or dancing or singing).

Nevertheless, I have several close friends involved in youth movements (and it has always interested me, as well, that many so-called youth are approaching their forties) who would rather I be more certain and interested than I am. They are busy building coalitions and news websites and organizations and it is all very inspirational and exciting.

And I sometimes wish to be carried along by this naked energy into a future of reformed, accountable governments that meet the needs of their people. But I think I would rather have it happen by magic--without conflict or violence or even a hint of disagreement. That we should all shake hands and agree to work together, compromise, and make the world a better place; redistributing land and wealth and media control as necessary.

I realize that this future may never be. But in my own small way I hope that by writing (or filming or dancing or singing) I can imagine and create my own fictive, egalitarian realities that could be a source of inspiration for real change. I think it is certainly a valid form of activism, and that we all have to figure out what shape our own will take.

For a little more inspiration, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie riffs on a new Nigerian order taking shape in pop music.

3 comments:

{ Femme Lounge } | May 10, 2010 at 2:23 PM said...

hello there! interesting blog you have here, am off to read chimamanda's piece!

{ Alligator Legs } | May 10, 2010 at 8:24 PM said...

@Femme Lounge: Thx for stopping by. Love your web site (esp: are you really dateable?). I need to get out my notebook! :)

{ AlooFar } | May 12, 2010 at 2:54 AM said...

Nice blog here.

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