Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie one of my favourite African authors warned against the danger of a ‘single story ‘. According to Chimamanda an over and over told same story might appear true and quite representative of a Nation or a Country, a race, a tribe or a region yet it could be deceptive in-depth. This is not very far from journalistic News Principle which emphasised of a balanced story with an objective lens of trying to be fair by bringing the opposing voice without taking biases.
I find in my opinion a ‘single story ‘can be glaring in numbers and numeric as Dr Peter.G Mwesige of Kampala based African Centre for Media Excellence highlighted in the book Numbers and The News: A Handbook for Journalist, that is very dangerous for a writer or reporter to use a single scenario in an area and use it to amalgamate its statistic for the entire region or place because it would mislead and not represent reality. A leprosy case in Gulu is a leprosy case reported and not ‘’Leprosy takes over Gulu ‘’. This is using one reported case to appear as Leprosy is now rampant in Gulu. Northern Uganda also suffered journalistic Konyi ‘single story’ that a perception was created that nothing good could come out of the North as most people from the North all harboured interest and feelings just like the Lord Resistance Army war lord. There were stories of violence and chaos in schools out of the Region as children from the North felt it was abuse that time to refer to them as Konyi. Now the other story of Northern Uganda is just being told and giants are coming out of the Region, great, the women from other Regions have also realised that the Northern bulls are worth marrying and not as arrogant as then portrait through the time of the war.
Therefore, the concept of a ‘single story’ is almost criticised everywhere and deeply despised in leadership trait for fair judgement. The society we live in tend to care and mind so much of the ‘single story ‘than the other story, a case in point was when Victoria University on the 27th September 2021 announced socialite Shanita Namuyimbwa aka Bad Black as her latest Ambassador and there was mixed feelings as everybody immediately started putting her ‘single story’ as the reason she doesn’t deserve the appointment.
But as I looked at her defence in a press conference my heart broke, her clear narrative that nobody joins prostitution as an ambition must stay clear in our minds as we judge and most importantly her narrative set me in a mood ,that must children of people like her be judged in the future and not be given job because their mothers struggled paying their fees, the way they had to or is it more different from a Professor I know whose mother sold local Waragi to pay his fees in school. Would he really be happy if he became branded as professor of local waragi or this looks more decent?. Her message of reform lingered my heart and I found a powerful juxtaposition when President Yoweri Museveni Kaguta in his National address on the 1st of October said that he has been jailed in Tanzania several times. Although he didn’t get in to details why he was being jailed but he made it clear that it didn’t change his path to leadership and creating a difference now, hence a clear message that reform is possible. I don’t know if the Presidents message was coincidental or intentional to send another message to Ugandans who like only looking at their footprints.
We can set the rules of who a brand ambassador should be, but we can also use what society see as a ‘curse’ to influence positive change in the society and in a very humble tone, I want to applaud the leadership of Victoria University who took the bold step with existentialism philosophical approach to handle the matter at hand. The bold step you took made me remember Meursault; Alberat Camus protagonist in The Stranger who stands his ground for what he feels is right until his last days. Morally is true, we don’t have to be thieves, we should not prostitute, we need to be good people so that we have a clean family background so that our children would be liked and trusted with public offices in the future but what if my mother, a prostitute paid my tuition with money from prostitution and I read so hard with annoyance to write a new family story and became a doctor or a pilot or an engineer. I hope nobody will enter the hospital I would be working to get treatment from the prostitute’s son or nobody would enter the plane being piloted by the son of a prostitute. For those who judge, how sure you are, you have never been treated by a daughter of a prostitute or entered plane controlled by a son of a prostitute or your boss in office was paid in school by cash made from brothel.
People come from different walks of life and alarm of change and reform need to be embraced so that we avoid the ending of Julius Ocwinyo’s novel Footprint of the Outsider where family background matters than current capability at hand. As a personal confession ,it seems also not true what society tend to preach,for exampale my Father Omona Justine Lango was a village chief who cared more about people in his village than his family, connected people to jobs, poured waragi for his village mate in what I have always termed as slapping people’s cheek expecting the same but his was the storm .He worked in Butabika,Anaka Hospital including Gulu Hospital among others .After his death no road or village path was put in his name and his child who was a Sickler couldn’t be supported by people he looked job for and also died. I contested in my village in 2011 just for a local Councillor three position in my division thinking I would ride on the fame of my father who had set a record. The villagers told me I didn’t have a wife and can’t make a good leader, I failed the elections and since then I hold the same view Meursault held about society. We just pretend!
Let’s tell the story of Bad black with love that finally, she wants to learn and address us in English the next time she appears for a press-conference. Why can’t we celebrate that she would not respond to abuses because of her new demanding ambassadorial role that requires diplomacy?
Let us tell the other story of attempt in all ways to progress by Shanita than focus on with all energy on her past single story.
Ojok James Onono has passion in Communication, author of Justice in the Hague ,a poetry collection and student of Masters of Arts in Strategic Communication of Uganda Christian University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or +256-779705652.
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