3 things I wish African content creators could avoid…

Day 8 Winter Blogging Challenge

Albert Einstein

I have been reading several blogs this past week since the winter blogging challenge started. It has been really nice to connect with writers from Africa taking part in this challenge. So today, we are going to be schooling each other on what pitfalls to avoid in our content creation journey. Here are the three things that came up for me:

  • Avoid losing your African voice

This is number one for me and very crucial. Amidst the numerous voices on the web, the authentic African voice often struggles to come out. Why is this? We cannot keep blaming colonisation and our history of disadvantage. It is up to each and every one of us to change the narrative. We have great writers that have come out of Africa, great literary geniuses like Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Tsitsi Dangarembga, just to name a few. What made them stand out was that they did not lose their African voice. They write about the Africa that was before and celebrate our heritage, they write about Africa after colonisation and how our people were changed by globalisation. We can embrace these changes without losing what makes us African.

I would like to see more African content that celebrates our Africanness, that moves past the troubled Africa narrative. Content that does not compare us to the Western countries, but is purely about us. What makes us who we are is what we need to create more content about.

  • Avoid thinking that you have made it

The moment we stop growing and learning that is the moment we die, not in the literal sense, but our lives will be devoid of meaning and therefore, dead. There is this mindset that you have made it just because you have a certain number of followers or you have become an acclaimed writer and won a few awards. I have seen many creatives fall into the trap of fame and they stop listening to their audience or paying attention to what made them successful in the first place. It is human nature to be pumped up with pride and think that you have arrived, but I have seen this trend to be counterproductive. Instead of focusing on your craft, you begin doing everything to stay relevant and then you miss the point. Keep learning from others even less than yourself. Keep reading books and keep developing yourself.

“Making it” is a myth.

Some examples to give you a reality check: Take Tyshawn Jones, aged 20 who was named Skater of the Year 2019, but can’t stop talking about what he doesn’t have. Kirsten Dunst, who’s been nominated for several acting awards, but still feels uncelebrated. It goes to show that there will never be contentment when you are striving for “making it” or aiming for a point where you feel you have “arrived”. There will always be someone better than you or a new person with a different flavour will come along.

  • Avoid listening to what people say

This goes without saying, but a lot of Africans are trapped into traditional thinking and the kind of socialisation that often stifles creativity. Yes, I mentioned staying rooted in our Africanness and being true to ourselves, but if the tradition is oppressive or telling you not to do or say certain things just because it is tradition, then perhaps we need to reconsider some of these traditions. I am not saying adopt a new way of life or appropriate another culture, but stay true to yourself as an individual. Don’t do anything to please society because society will never be satisfied. If you allow people to direct your content, you will always be a people pleaser and lose your authentic voice. People might criticise you, but if you are true to yourself, it should not matter what they think. Surround yourself with those few who will believe in what you are doing.

The draft folder of most blogs may be a testimony of how much the fear of what people will say has stifled some of us.

Until tomorrow,

GG


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