Africa has a lot of rich and desirable traditions. These traditions shaped its culture, value, social relations among others. Everyone needs to be proud of their tradition. No tradition no matter how archiac it may appear to other is in no way meaningless. In addition to these traditions are myths and folklore. They all make the essence of what Africa really stands for. To understand a tradition, one must looks beyond the face value otherwise one may eventually dismiss with a wave of hand rich and great lessons.
Unfortunately, for most Africa traditions, many were seen as barbaric when the colonial infiltrate its culture especially during the colonial ‘grab and conquer era’. Many of these traditions were seen as primitive and lack scientific foundation hence need to throw away the baby with the birth water. Western culture as great as it is with this approach has done a lot of damage to Africa belief systems as well as age long cherished tradition with lots of morals.
In an article by Macaulay Kanu, Kanu maintained s”ome of the good values in Africa tradition can be seen in moral values,religious and spiritual values,Economic values,Political values,Aesthetic value and Social values. There is also a good and cherished values in Africa’s sense of hospitality, respect and extended family”. We must agree though some of these values also put a lot of burden on some individuals within the community.
For Instance the extended family tradition as it is practiced Africa and in some Asian countries like India places a lot of demand on any rich member of the family to care for the less privileged. This is a good thing but the fact is that many of the extended family members have squandered their great opportunities for greatness for lack of vision, discipline etc. Yet the few or the only one person with right perspective to life will now have to carry the burden of others.
Interestingly according to Maulana Karenga ”Our culture provides us with an ethos we must honor in both thought and practice. By ethos, we mean a people’s self-understanding as well as its self-presentation … For culture is here defined as the totality of thought and practice by which a people creates itself, celebrates, sustains and develops itself and introduces itself to history and humanity”. There is an element in our culture, tradition which compel us to stick to certain demands which hurt us deeply. Yet, we often look like we are incapable of making a change to what we have power to change.
The modern realities is calling on us to challenge the status qou. We must be bold enough to question some of our age long belief systems. We must be able to make correction where there is a need to and reinforced those we have ignored to our own detriment. Let have a case study. About two weeks ago, it was widely rumoured that a paramount traditional ruler in the southwest , albeit, Nigeria as a whole who was in London hospital gave up the ghost.
In this age where there is freedom of information and where openness, transparency are the key words. The news filtered through the social media and other available platforms within Nigeria and beyond. But to the surprised of many, the board of King makers and high chiefs denied the claim that the said paramount ruler – Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, was still much alive.
The premise for this was that prior to now when such paramount ruler died, it has to be announced through one of the high chiefs in the kingdom after certain traditions have been performed. The writer is quite aware the last time such paramount ruler died was in 1980 or 82 after which this late Ooni of Ife was installed. That was an average of thirty five years ago at least. Then things were different. We only have two major mass channels: Radio, Newspaper and possibly Television stations which were highly controlled then.
It was really possible to manage information flow. Today technology, albeit Internet had done a lot of damage to such control. Till date, what is in the public knowledge, the death of the paramount ruler, is still being kept as a secret. Till date, neither the king makers nor the State Governor had accepted the reality as they continued to claim the King is not dead yet until official pronouncement pronouncement from the official quarter. Meanwhile it was reported in Nigeria Newpapers about a week ago that Nigeria Ambassador to Great Britain had paid official condolence visit to the late Ooni ‘ s residence in UK.
Also, we have read in the Newpapers that immediate family member of the king have been moving their personal effects from the palace, a preparatory step toward new occupant to move in when selected. What a barefaced lie and deception.
With this background the writer has been thinking out loudly on other issues that need immediate re evaluation in Africa culture. For instance, there is a culture in a certain part of Southern Africa where when a particular king is looking for bride, all intending ladies would have to undergo virginity test before they can be selected as possible candidates.
Meanwhile the king needs not be one. When did virginity become a yardstick for being a good wife?. There is also a belief in certain part of Nigeria that a lady with a bended portion of the foot towards the ankle is a dangerous person to marry as seven men who take her as bride must die in succession before the eight can stay alive.
Recently in one of the Southwest state in Nigeria, about nine people died mysteriously because they went to a shrine they were not qualified to visit (?). The general believe was that it was the god who killed them.
The point then Is that many of Africa’s tradition beliefs need a lot of re assessment and evaluation. While some, which promote respect, dignity, honesty must be reignited because there seem to be a value shift. We seem to be celebrating people with money, whether the money was gotten the right way or not. Chieftancy titles are now given to people with shady background. Information democratisation is now the order of the day. We can not to live in the dark age of secrecy and expect to be taken seriously as a people. We should embrace new technology which we use them to promote those things we valued most.