Living shouldn’t be about blindly following an ideology or faith, or anything for that matter. It should include being able to observe how other people live their lives and speaking out for the voiceless. For those who for whatever reason, cannot tell their stories or be heard.
These are the powerless, whose daily grind goes unnoticed by the majority and whom nobody seems to care about. What if it were your or my child 2 generations down the line? Should one wait until that happens, shouldn’t we care about other people?
The African market seller, who in trying to feed her children, spends endless days in the merciless sun, going without food from morning till dusk. Or the mechanic, the taxi driver, the wheelbarrow pusher, who haven’t a hope of changing their lives or those of their children, in Africa, and most parts of the world, no matter how bright their ambitions might be.
A painting, a picture, a photograph, the cinema can capture and tell stories which words may not be able to convey alone. Not everything can be talked or written about. People may not be able, for whatever reason to tell another person what’s going on in their lives, but these media can speak volumes.
This broadens our imagination, as there are different dimensions to what we experience, who we are, what we do and how our actions can be interpreted. We are then able to tell/capture stories which are at once vivid, alive, fuller and richer, that we might not have otherwise have been able to tell. This is true poetry, not merely reciting some lines on a page which conform to strict rules and where the story can get lost.
Most of the time African stories are told through the voice of others, who may have no insight or who may deliberately conceal the truth, because it suits their political purposes. When we can’t see mirrors of ourselves, i.e. people who look like us, telling our stories, then we become alienated and it becomes difficult to find our place in the world, as Raoul Peck noted in his Conversation at BFI Southbank titled Stolen Images: People and Power in the Films December 5th 2015.
Most films and media are from a Western perspective and may perhaps seek to define other people and their experiences through what they want people to believe and not necessarily for what is the truth. This in many instances distorts or on many occasions deliberately ignores the amble opportunities to hear what others have to say from their perspective.
Many Black children today have no role models, no one to see themselves and their peoples achievements through, hence creating a distorted image of African/Black history, and of themselves. When we read a book, watch a film, are told a story, we are always trying to find something with which we can identify with, something that resonates with us, whether on a conscious or subconscious level.
On an individual level, we have to decide what we are dealing with first, what we are trying to say/do, and find things which give us hope, or rather which will drive us, and make us keep up the battle even when difficulties arise. If you have poor self worth or low self esteem because of the images which you are constantly bombarded with, then this becomes increasing difficult and for some may become impossible to achieve.
In one of the snapshots of the films directed by Raoul, it was stated that it is not the words of enemy that we remember, but the silence of our friends. We all know the African proverb,”if you eat with the devil, you have to eat with a long spoon”. Raoul captured the meaning of this proverb well, when a person who is fighting the system becomes the monster he is trying to fight.