The Demonization of African Traditions and Customs Must Stop
Today there are about 3000 peoples living on Earth who speak more than 5000 languages and dialects. All these peoples have their own characteristic customs and traditions, religions, culture and anthropological features. These unique traditions and rich history are part of what makes this planet a more interesting place to live.
What do we really mean by Customs and Traditions? It simply refers to a means of identifying a group of people with a long-standing name as a distinct group with a common set of ancestors and defined traditional home, lifestyles, folk customs, oral history, literature, crafts, arts, music, and food ways.
Africa and its various Customs and Traditional systems have continued to face a dilemma; one rooted in fear, propaganda, and colonization of not only the land, but the mind as well. There is nothing wrong with replacing a culture or tradition that has no positive impact on its citizens, with new values that has the interest of the people at heart, like stopping the killing of twins.
The integration of Western culture into our traditional setting has remained a protracted issue throwing so many victims into endless dilemma. In several instances, cultural infraction has attracted severe punishment leading to a strain in relationships.
However a lot is wrong with changing positive values, long held traditions and customs with that of the whites because of the belief and a mind set that ours is inferior.
This mindset is largely as a result of the colonization of the blacks by the whites and is exhibited in almost all the major areas of our life, like our dressing, our food, our relationship with elders and most of all our language.
For example, it is commonplace these days to come across people who wrongly see the ways of their ancestors as evil or backwards. Some will non-ironically quote a barrage of Biblical scriptures trying to prove their point.
Missionaries came to Africa and not only to convert indigenous people to Christianity, but to spread what they termed ‘Christian civilisation’, a reference to a process that denigrated local and indigenous customs, traditions, and life styles, replacing them with Western culture in effect.They came in, stole the land, stole the people, and imposed their way of life in order to edify the souls of the “savage devil worshippers.”
This is another clear case of clash of cultures.
Whereas the Europeans and Americans can address adults on first name basis, it is culturally and traditionally unacceptable in Nigeria. Traditional African culture typically does not permit young ones addressing seniors by first names. Instead we make use of prefixes like aunty, Uncle, Baba, Mama, Madam, Papa, Brother, Sister, Oga, a title or any local adaption of the prefix. Any deviation from the norm may attract reprimand and often earns the offender the brand of an enfant terrible.
One of the most unfortunate effects of the impact of Western Culture on Africans is on the identification of their children which features Roman, Greek, and/or Hebrew names, and is predominantly and originally a Roman Catholic church baptismal ritual.
The truth remains that if people truly seek with an open mind, they will come to realize that the customs they once abhorred are not evil, but beautiful. They will be changed for the better.
We must not only respect our customs and traditions, but strive ver hard to understand, uphold, protect and defend them.
The demonization must stop!