When I recall my childhood, it's wonderful but there's something missing. No, this is not where I cry to you about how my daddy didn't buy me a lollipop one time, or how I very nearly wrecked Papa Afam's Benz when I was 6. Our history is what's missing.
I was a terrible child. One day I decided that I was going to run away from home. I grabbed my pillow, walked out the door, and stopped in front of the Benz because I realised that I didn't know where I was running away to. Six year old me was a realist. I didn't like the thought of sleeping under bridges and slumming it. I quite enjoyed my milk time at six o'clock sharp. In truth I was really only mad at Papa Afam's insistence that I eat marmite on toast and with oats for breakfast. When I realised that it was his governance of my plate that had made me unhappy, I prepared the ultimate 6 year old fuck you.
I was an evil child.
I climbed to the roof of the Benz and treated it like some inelastic trampoline. What can I say? Absolute foolishness is the divine right of all children. Papa Afam ran out of the flat, saw me desecrating his still quite new Benz and very nearly shat himself. My very expensive tantrum was quickly followed by my first spanking.
And back to the matter at hand.
I fear that not enough has been done to preserve our history. We almost never discuss the past in great detail here, and when we do it's so gilded and glossy that we might as well be silent. We know the events that occurred but there's been no real attempt to collect the histories of the people involved. The official releases of who did what, and who shot who, are not enough to explain the turn of time. We need more depth. We need letters, and pictures and videos. We need names, and museums that haven't been confined to lifetimes of decrepitude and depreciation. We don't have a national anything that we can be proud of, and it's sad. It's worse than sad, it's downright depressing. That's why I'm really excited about the Nsibidi Institute.
Their ambition is to gather as many recorded conversations and photographs that illustrate personal experiences in Nigeria from as far back as the 1940s. But it doesn't stop there. 'The Memory Project' is enriched with research and interactive elements, some of which use digital and new media technology to engage a wider audience.
They're launching the project on Sunday evening. So you should probably come round and meet the project team, and find out how you can be a part of this movement! I'll be there, and I'll pitch the project to Grandpapa Afam. Sorry. I broke character there. History makes me emotional. If you know someone who'd be interested, you should definitely bring them along.
Think about it. A digital history of Nigerian life. Amazing no?
Date: Sunday September 6th, 2015
Time: 5PM - 7PM
Venue: Whitespace, 58 Raymond Njoku Street, off Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.