Take control of your narrative

Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter - Chinua Achebe

It's high time we, Africans, collected, recorded and wrote our own stories. We have to continue what authors like Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, Chinua Achebe, Amadou M'Pate Ba started. Today we have people like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who is breaking barriers between Africa, namely Nigeria, and the West, in particular the U.S.

Although we're not all writers, we can do our bit.

I'm fed up with non-Africans telling our stories – always giving a biased, racist, untrue version of what we live especially in the case of colonialism.

We seldom hear the other side of the story. Some of us are lucky enough to have our grand-parents (and also great-grand parents) so we must take the opportunity to hear and write their stories down.

We must hurry because “when an old man dies, a library burns to the ground”.

This is why upon coming to Senegal I decided I would talk to my grand-parents. For some of us it is a big deal because we speak the coloniser's language better than we speak our mother tongues. But I didn't despair, I revised Bamana and asked my mother and auntie to help me.

So I sat down with my grand-mother, laptop on my lap and asked her to tell me a little about herself. That was the third time time I was meeting her but the very first time I was getting to know her.

She told me who her parents were, where she came from and what she did in her life. She lived in a little village in Mali called Tabu and because she didn't live in a bigger town or city she didn't really experience colonialism in a brutal way. Like my father's mother, she remembers how frightening it was to see a White person for the first time. In fact, anytime she saw one, she would run away from them.

This is just the beginning. I want to hear more stories from our elders before it's too late.

Once again Chinua Achebe said: “If you don't like my story, write your own.”