Goodbye Obama, hello Adama

There are two sides to every story, sometimes more. This remains the case across the storytelling spectrum: from flash fiction to novels, and in journalism from soundbites to long form investigations. Yet what is most evident, gazing along that spectrum of storytelling, is that narratives get blunted, bottle-necked, blinkered.

adamabarrow_capture
Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow

Indeed the 24-7 media carousel continues to create, rather than cover, news in its quest to fill space or time. For many of us, news and social radars have been dominated (for too long) by one story, one man, one name… clue: five letters, begins with ‘T’, ends with ‘P’. Trying to unravel that particular story and discern fact from “alternate fact” to glimpse the various sides is not my purpose here. Instead, I’m highlighting the (definite) fact that this is not the only story of its kind, at this moment in history. Little attention, if any, has been directed to another brand new presidency that has – in parallel – begun in January 2017.

In Gambia, west Africa, a property developer (and former security guard) Adama Barrow has risen to the role of President. Perhaps the most startling fact is that, to date, this has been a peaceful change, after more than two decades of authoritarian rule. So far, so good. A potential success story that, for the time being, appears extra shiny given the shady goings-on in so many nations deemed to be ‘more newsworthy’.

So why is this story a hard-to-find footnote, rather than a headline? It could just be the bottom line – that the seemingly endless cycle of rows and unrest in America (and for me, the UK) just make for better TV ratings and/or readership. But it’s also due to the outmoded practice of one-sided, narrow-minded news making that serves up limited, lop-sided news.

With Obama gone, it might feel as if the 45th president’s first contentious days in Office are the only story. Yet there are, at least, two sides to every story – whether that story is local or on the world’s stage; whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. There should always be room for parallel tales, competing narratives, alternate realities. Goodbye Obama, hello Adama.

 

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