Friday, December 14, 2007

The Pitfalls of African Customs.


A priori the premise is that every culture is equanimous. This writing does not infer that the African culture is inferior to other cultures. My detractors will waylay for my heart claiming I have said: the African culture is substandard. I believe culture is very important in people’s lives because a people without a culture are people without an identity. If the points that I am raising in this paper make the culture weak, then surely it beckons for an overhaul. There are some customary practices that I seem to question, even in my dream. A few of them are the rights to inheritance, marriage and sterility, male chauvinism, nepotism and provisions by sibling.
It is more than schadenfreude to witness an uncle or cousin, inherit your father’s wealth when you are alive simply because tradition says that in case your father dies his cousin or brother will be his heir. They will promise to sponsor you in school and help you but heaven knows if they fulfill that promise. Every right thinking African in whose land such tradition is being practiced hitherto should reject it overtly. What happens to your wife and kids after you die? That is the more reason why Africans should learn how to write their wills to prevent mischievous and parasitic relatives from depriving your family of your hard earned wealth.
I have also seen under the sun another practice that I don’t understand. Why do we always associate marriage with child bearing? It is almost like if you get married nine months after people expect to see your wife pregnant else they start calling her sterile. Before, they subjected the woman to terrible ignominy up to the point of requesting you get a second wife. That is how some people got into polygyny. Marriage is the divine means of procreation but it is not the reason why God instituted marriage. Marriage was instituted as a solution to loneliness (Gen 2:18). That is why no matter what toys we buy and recreation we have there is still that vacuum for someone to rub your back and breath hard on your neck.
God though made the woman for the man did not make her inferior, so I wonder why Africans who were the first to emancipate their women the world over (examples are the Mwami of Rwanda and the Modjadji V of South Africa traditionally called the Rain Queens who were leading their villages in the 1800s) should be now the ones struggling to allow them equal opportunities. Why are young girls forced into marriage but not young boys? Why is female circumcision forceful rather that facultative? No one should accept forceful female circumcision.
In the west, if your brother becomes a derelict or tramp you are not despised but in Africa when your siblings are not doing fine you are a pariah. Definitely one should take care of their families. But why do we still feel obliged to help indolent relatives just because we do not want the society to blame us? This great affinity is the cause of the last evil: The Black Plum Theory.
The Black Plum Theory states that if your relative is on top of a plum tree, you will eat black plums. How he got on that tree is not the issue. It is almost like the western philosophy of the end justifies the means. This theory means that if you have a relative in a position of authority, he must first help them before he helps strangers and cronies. That is why most employments are not by merits but by sanguinity. Isn’t this a custom we should all deracinate?
Every culture has some good customs and traditions and some bad ones. It is time we scrape away the bad ones because every culture that refuses to evolve will forcefully be changed by a revolution. As you all know, revolutions always go to the extreme because they turn the kings to slaves and the fons to nchindas.
Until then, may the good Lord provide for all the orphans who lost all because of custom.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

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