‘If you want to hide something from an African, put it in the books,’ thus goes the old insult. However, there is some element of truth in the statement, considering the attitude some of us Africans have towards books, and especially when there is no exam attached to the reading.
I don’t believe that Africans are apathetic to gaining knowledge. There is an area where we excel very well; on telling stories and passing information by word of mouth. Most African cultures have great oral traditions and every tea break in the office, lecture break or even bus ride finds us listening to some stories, or even telling some. Vocal people are popular and end up in politics, and in small group setting, the talking guy is the spirit of the party.
However, as times change, so we should. Technology has changed the way we communicate and interact, and social media has taken a prime position as a means of communication. Our stories must now be told online, and this has been effected using social media. This is a good thing, and we must use social media to convey positive and relevant messages all the time. But social media has its limitations; it is perfect for one-liners, 140 characters, and pictures, and users detest anything that will keep them on these platforms for too long. We just want to have a glimpse of information. The other times when we need to read something in depth needs a different tool than social media. We want good written articles that we can read in fifteen to twenty minutes, and this is where good blogs and platforms like medium become necessary.
A number of people have made a fortune by writing blogs, but in this a few problems have also come up. The quality of content and the topics covered is always wanting. It is said that people who used to write on toilet walls when we were kids have now become bloggers – they only changed the platform but the content is the same. It is therefore important that responsible people also take up the challenge and populate the world wide web with good content that can help better the cause of humanity.
You do not need to be an expert in any field in order to influence people through writing. Your daily experience can inspire someone else, and your past experience can help mentor a younger person. Your daily struggles or successes with finances, health, friendships, leadership, career, faith, farming etc can be useful to someone else. We also need to document the our life experiences for the sake of others who come after us.