We are not the sum of things that happen to us in life but rather the sum of the stories we chose to tell ourselves about what happens to us. I got expelled from my high school for being ‘recalcitrant’ but the story I tell myself is – I got expelled for being a free thinker and refusing to follow rules that made no sense. We hardly remember the facts, we remember the stories.
In most prosperous countries, there are stories of great medical doctors, politicians, writers, economists, teachers, soldiers, business owners, philosophers, engineers, social workers, Police officers, Fire fighters, etc. These stories serve to inspire future generations. As humans, we have an inherent need to be valued and have our work or service to society recognized. We have teachers that will give all their time and effort to their students, not for the meagre salary but for that one day a successful student will come back and say to them ‘Thank you for making me a better person.’
How many of our youth grow up wanting to be the next superstar athlete, and maybe now the next MTV award winning artist? – not even knowing the details of how that can be achieved but still forging ahead and dreaming because those are one of the few best told stories. A few might know about the great bariatric surgeon Dr. Fobi but realise his story is but part of the American dream, not the Cameroonian dream. How many know of Acha Leke who also happens to be a Cameroonian benefitting from the American dream.
Where are our locally groomed heroes? Where is the story of the brave Captain Yari Emmanuel? Where is the story of the brave teacher that turned a failing class around? Where is the story of our great writer who impacted our society? Where is the story of Arthur Zang? Where is the story of the police officer or judge that fought corruption and injustice? Where is the story of the woman who dedicated her life to serving the underprivileged? Where is the story of the business man that started from nothing and succeeded based on hardwork and integrity? Where is the story of the president who fought for the glory of his nation?
Until we hear those stories, expect to continue hearing the stories of policemen who took bribes and rubbed university students in mud, corrupt politicians, unscrupulous businessmen, distasteful musicians, The president who cares not about the people, Nyangono du Sud, etc.
There is an African proverb that says – ‘Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.’