There is nothing more uncomfortable than silence: Nothing more telling than silence.
The ongoing COVID-19 induced lockdowns have pushed people into the darkness of silence. We are unable to speak as we don’t know what to say. Is true? Will it ‘do no harm’?. Storytelling has been at the heart of African culture and without the capacity to convene and express the collective anxiety we feel and hope we have, for a post-COVID-19 world, is crippling.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, and more so now, tradition has been a voice in the dark. A voice we all seek in times of trouble but are too ashamed to associate within the light for fear of victimization.
This is the same position we’ve been placed in by the pandemic- afraid to associate with friends and family for fear of being stigmatized should a member of the circle turn out Coronavirus positive. The position we are in now gives us an opportunity to press the reset button on how we tell and share stories. It is giving us a chance to redefine “tradition” and what it means to us. In doing so we will open doors to collective solutions on how we, as a people, can adapt without losing ourselves, our stories to any adversary- health or otherwise. After all, “tradition” is a part of us, what we do and who we are.
There is an African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child,” our child is Hope. Hope is but a “Whispering Silence” if we fail to give voice to it.
We cannot continue to suppress our identity the way the Coronavirus has done our movements.
We must tell our stories to the future.
“Whispering Silence” is a digital storytelling project which gives voice to ten individuals impacted by the pandemic. The Contributors look into the past by sharing a ngano (folklore) in search of solutions for the present COVID-19 environment. The Contributors share their coping stories and speak to the future about cultural values they want people to re-engage in a “new world”.
[Whispering Silence] This project was made possible with support from Africalia and the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation of Belgium.