Capturing The Moments That Matter
Reflections on creating and documenting our memories and experiences
A few months ago, I stumbled on a diary I had kept in my third year in secondary school. It was one of those company souvenirs, A5 size with small spaces for each day and a page a week. Do you remember those diaries with important information on the first few pages? The Nigerian pledge and anthem, key economic details of the country, states and capitals, etc. That was the one.
It was quite popular to keep diaries back in the day. I remember diligently filling in my experiences almost every day for a good part of that year. Thinking about it now, do we still have paper diaries? Everything has gone digital these days. Going through my entries brought back so many memories. There were the events that made me laugh and those that made me angry or sad, some made me reflect, and others unearthed some regrets. How I saw things and documented them was so revealing. It was amazing to think about how far I have come since that year.
Reading my diary felt like I was back to JSS 3 again. I quickly took snapshots of some of the pages and shared them on my secondary school class WhatsApp group. We all had a good laugh, and this predictably set us down memory lane. I wonder how it would have been if I had kept a diary every year since then. It would have been fun reading through all of the things I have experienced throughout my life.
I never took a History class in school but I have always loved learning about the past. I recall the first time I visited the National Museum at Onikan, Lagos. The major highlight of that visit was seeing the bullet-ridden official car of the former Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed. I can’t remember what else I saw but I do know I was not completely enthralled. In contrast, a much later visit to the Africa section of The British Museum in London held me spellbound. I couldn’t help thinking that the items in the museum should have been in museums in Africa. A good part of the history of the Bini Kingdom and many other African cultures was on full display for the world to see, but how many Africans know about these cultures and traditions? Irrespective, I wish we spent more time preserving and documenting our history, maybe we wouldn’t be where we are now.
I learnt about the importance of preserving history from my family. My father had a video recording camera, much like the ones TV stations used to record shows and vox pop. He would take it to almost every event he went to and make recordings on VHS tapes. Sometimes, one could even mistake him for the official videographer! He once went to the village to interview people to document their experiences. Sadly, many of those tapes have been destroyed, they would have been a good source of content about our cultures and traditions. He also kept all sorts of letters and our report cards.
My mother and her sisters, on the other hand, took a lot of pictures. I remember one of my childhood pastimes was looking through various family albums, and asking questions about the people and the events that were captured. I always found it quite fascinating to hear about the past. My mum said when she was in her youth, they would sometimes just dress up for the fun of it and go to the studio to have their pictures taken. You didn’t even need to be celebrating anything, just dress up, show up, and take pictures.
We had a similar thing back in uni and I know it was popular in many higher institutions. There was a place on campus called “motion ground” and it was the same name on many other campuses (I wonder who came up with the name). Students would go there just to take pictures, either alone or with friends. I don’t know if motion grounds still exist but those photo studios still exist now. From my mum’s childhood till now, it’s a wonder that the more things change, the more they remain the same! Photoshoot anyone?
Thankfully, we have all the tools we need to document our memories handy. Most cell phones have cameras and videos, and as we all know, selfies have been with us for a while now. We also have online repositories for our media, whether storage sites or social media where we can share our media and have other people make comments.
Documenting our memories and experiences is a critical part of our lives as humans. It helps us preserve our history and provide learning for future generations. Keeping and reliving good memories can also be therapeutic. We have a great opportunity to create lasting memories with our loved ones during this season. Even though it’s just a few weeks in the year, it can be the start of a greater collection of shared events and memories.
Remember, building memories do not have to cost much. One just has to recognise the special moments that can be documented, like when your child takes their first step or goes to school for the first time. When you meet up with an old friend from school or when you run your first marathon. Your first day at your first job or when you take the train for the first time.
To create more memorable events and also document them, you can:
- Do something new for the first time
- Write about the new things you experienced. You could keep a journal or diary, even a blog or vlog
- Be present and pay attention while you experience life. Gadgets tend to distract us from the beautiful moments we should be living
- Always remember to take pictures and videos, especially spontaneous ones, those are the best
Everyone has a story to tell and we should strive to preserve our stories. We all experience life in different ways and these experiences sum up to shape the people that we become. As we go through life, let us focus on creating and preserving our memories, who knows? Perhaps something you experience and share today could save the world tomorrow. As always, this is the way I see things today.