Challenging Post-colonial narratives

Ilha blue has alway challenged the privileging of post-colonial narratives over local narratives. We believe that lived experiences provide more reliable accounts than what can typically be found in guide books and journals. That’s why Ilha Blue guides are encouraged to ask family and community elders about stories that they can share with visitors; anecdotes, myths and local legends are far more interesting and place local people at the centre not the edge of key historic events.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our style of responsible tourism played an important part in preserving oral histories – a recognised tool of cultural preservation.

Writing in Quartz Africa Lavinya Stennett highlights increased Western interest in local narratives and the idioms through which they are told

The last few years have witnessed a growing recognition of oral histories in Western academies. With more authors, filmmakers and artists from around the world highlighting the rich oral histories of Africa, the tradition of passing knowledge through generations has invited a moment of change within wider Western establishments.

Oral histories are rich, complex tools of storytelling, which contain fine details of ancestry and ancestral experiences. These oral narratives are important modes of transmitting knowledge, especially as they bring alive histories that are not present in archives, books and other forms of literary tradition.

With recollections of the past often told through idioms and long, enthralling storytelling, oral histories are the vessel between the present and the past, and in many ways act as a tool of cultural preservation.

As history presents itself through the people, culture within Africa shows itself to be dynamic and continuous. However, throughout history, the oral tradition has been dismissed by Western productions of knowledge. In essence, they have deprived the complexity of the oral tradition through presenting false written narratives about Africa which exclude lived experiences, and draw on loaded colonial clichés.

Moreover, the legacy of Eurocentrism has also continued to determine the parameters of knowledge production and decided that the literary mode of documenting and passing down knowledge is the only legitimate form. A single narrative is limited as it can only present one version of the truth. Since knowledge is contextual, the oral tradition must be recognized in order to represent the totality of truths that abound within the region.

Ilha Blue will continue to explore and share local history through story telling.

Follow the link to the full Quartz Africa article below.

Lavinya Stennett By Lavinya Stennett