January Editor’s Note: New Thinking, New Beginnings

Dear Vanguard readers,

For a while, I still hadn’t gotten over saying “Happy!” and “Compliments” whenever I met people and couldn’t resist exclaiming that, “I haven’t seen you since last year!” Perhaps it’s because the weather still feels like it’s beckoning me to put on some shorts or that many of my friends still haven’t gotten back to work while I’m busy working on content plans or that I keep being emailed ‘Best of 2014’ lists.

I couldn’t stay in that Dezemba daze for long because world events quickly brought me back to reality. Less than two weeks in and Boko Haram executed it’s worst massacre since it’s formation, killing more than 2000 people, and in so doing using young girls as suicide bombers.

While that has happened, the world’s attention and sympathy was almost monopolized by the Charlie Hebdo attack. While this is certainly not a game of ‘our suffering is worse than yours’, it has been heartening to see the number of Africans on social media speaking out on the hypocrisy displayed in the Western media coverage and many world governments’, and in particular African governments and the African Union’s, response to the attack. Although a hashtag is not going to end the conditions that breed terrorist action, it is heartening to see Africans begin to show their solidarity with Nigeria with #IAmBaga.

There is clearly a new thinking as many of us have been moved by Western hypocrisy around freedom of speech, the deaths which are seen as valuable and the willful dismissal of West’s role in the socio-economic (and political) conditions that breed terrorism. Like a stuck record, I will say I am most encouraged to see that Africans are asking where our continent’s media is to tell our stories. They are no longer expecting much from Western media and expecting their local outlets to take the lead. Likewise, Africans are demanding more of their African leaders, pushing back at the delayed, if at all, and muted responses by their leaders.

With all this happening around us, the video that we want to begin the year with is ‘We Must Free Our Imagination’ by Kenyan writer-extraordinaire Binyavanga Wainaina. If it is that we want to begin to see a different reality around us, we think his 6-part series released a couple months is worth revisiting. In his witty and irreverent manner he asks us to question and seek more – having a go at everything from school systems that churn out administrators and clerks to evangelical pastors who preach prosperity gospel and politicians who have the audacity to concern themselves with what happens behind the closed doors of adults.

I also drew up a little list of things (A Black Feminist’s 15 New Year’s Resolutions) that I will try to do to keep my sanity, my happiness, my career on track while committed to advancing our cause in a time of twitter, Bonang and Twelve Apostles. You might find it useful (or just interesting to see what concerns me). And for those of us still fighting the last of the summer madness and not able to resist the end of season sales, check out Siki Msuseni’s Best Colour Moments for some inspiration.

As I start this year simultaneously fired up and frustrated about world events, I want to remember (and act on) this quote by the Islamic scholar and poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī:

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

If you bump into me somewhere and I am uncritically evangelizing, please knock me over the head and remind me of my hypocritical words at the beginning of the year.

Like an evangelical pastor, I’m tempted to say that this is the year that you shall prosper. Instead, I wish you all the strength for the hard work you’ll need for all the amazing things that you aim to achieve in 2015. Here’s to a fruitful year.




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