FUTURE OF THE AFRICAN CHILDREN; SCARY!
Couple of months back, I was anchoring the Cultural Day program of one of the schools I consult for, it was a nice program and an eye opener for parents and the entire people that were present because it bore naked, the nonchalant attitude the today’s parents have developed towards the preservation of the African heritage through their children. Well, that will only be true for parents that know the real value of our African culture and values. But I don’t see why they wouldn’t know! Unless they don’t understand it themselves or have no appreciation for it and that makes them even worse than their children. In the Cultural Day program, I recall asking a question, “What is your name and what does it mean?” As I picked students at random to give me an answer, it was nothing surprising to everyone that more than 90% of them bear English or religious names as their parents might have found in their respective holy books and a few of them did well to know the meaning of those names. But that really satisfied my curiosity less, so I asked my question more directly, “what is your local or Nigerian name according to your tribal background.” That was the big issue! Many of them out rightly have no tribal name and the few that have had no idea what that name may mean.
Some that actually answer their local names have had the names shortened for them and the short form is what they think is their actual name. For example, a boy told me his name is “Timmy” according to his spelling and he has no idea what that means but I found out that his name is actually “Oluwatimileyin” in its full nomenclature (kind of long you may say, yes, it is) and it means, from Yoruba translation, “The Lord backs me.” My fear is this, how will such a child understand the beauty and soundness in the meaning of his name? Unless he gets curious enough to make enquiries at the time he thinks it’s important he knows. How will they know, when the parents see nothing important in educating their children about the beauty of their origin and identity? What happens to those days when grandparents carry their grandchildren on their laps or circle them around their old rocking chair to tell them about the moonlight tales, stories of the ancestors, fables, myths and sing those root songs? Typically speaking, there is no doubt that we are about to witness a generation of African children with little or no information that may link them to any particular African origin beside the colour of their skin. They practically will become lost generation that wouldn’t know where it comes from the best they will be is a second class citizen of wherever they find themselves either over the seas or worst for them, in their own lands.
Most will be quick to blame all these flaws on westernization and development in African continent but do you really think that development into first world countries really warrants that we get lost in transit? The countries that are called developed today; did they really lose their identity in the process of their development? Perhaps they did, and they calved out another that is most suitable for them but how come that is what we are longing to also imbibe? Why can’t we allow ourselves to evolve and we still retain our identity as to whom we are and where we are from? Many will also blame this appalling situation on the advent of religion that came in centuries past. If you will permit objectivity in considering that motion, has any of the two major religions that came into African been staunchly opposing to our culture and heritage beside that fact that they bring to us the worship of the Omni being of Supreme characteristics than the mini and semi-gods that we once believed?
What happened to our language?
As much universally acceptable some other languages have become, does this mean that our own dialects and tongues should be thrown away? In the attempt to appear acceptable to other country for economic reasons, we embraced their language and careless about our own. As diverse and multi that we are in language and culture, I strongly disagree that someone else’s should come to override ours. You will find children, especially those in diaspora, that are so proficient and oratory when it comes to speaking English, French etc but can they make the simplest sentence in their language? Even if their grandparent volunteers to teach them, how will they understand anything when communication cannot be established? Worse are those who are at home but city life has overtaken them because some parents even willingly chose not let their children speak their dialect thinking it may make them less brilliant.
What happened to our music and dance?
Here is where I think we’ve most missed it! Going back the history lane, it was reported that the African that were taken away in slavery into those other parts of the world are those that exported the African rhythms that over the years metamorphosed and transcended into all various forms of rhythms we have today. The hip-hop that is much overhyped today is part of what our rhythms and souls have been modernized into. But it’s scarier now that this so-called hip-hop has less or nothing of morals and values to whom we are as Africans. Those lyrics that remind us of worth of human life and dignity, life lessons and morals, beauty of human soul etc have all been replaced with words of immorality and encouragements of slangs that corrupt the mind. We need renaissance musicians who will preserve the beauty of our harmony and rhythms to show the next generation that Africa is the place of origin of music.
What about our dances? What about those beautiful steps to the talking drums and rolling that we use to depict royalty and excitement? They have all been replaced with erotically and mind-bugging wriggling and squirming that promotes promiscuity and sexuality even to the under-aged. So senseless of the so-called dancers that the people singing most likely will be near-moderately dressed but they are the ones wearing skimps and shorts that covers nothing beyond just the top of their cleavages and area of their rotund asset.
What happened to our dressing?
Fashion, we know is in cycle even when it appears to be evolving. When I look at my mum’s pictures when she was a single lady, with her friends and sister, the kind of big eye-glasses they wear is such you may call bottle but isn’t it what the trend is today? What about the high-hill shoes? I’m sure you know it didn’t just start recently. But wouldn’t it bother you how this evolution is playing on? Proper and modest manner of dressing that use to tells us of a well-mannered child and great family background has now become something of tremendous concern because we are fast losing the difference between ladies’ and men’s wears in the present age. Nudity seems to be more convenient for today’s ladies as they try to follow the ways of the Westerners forgetting that sometimes, “what is good for the goose is not befitting to the gander.”
So on and so forth we will continue to list things that have gone wrong in our society and we gradually are losing the “we” that we are. Africa is a beautiful place. To be black in colour should have nothing to do with the content of our heart and mind. The rest of the world has rarely seen the good and great things that are coming out of African because all they have to show all the time is how impoverished, disease stricken and helpless we are.
Who will help us?
Has it not bothered you to see how the westerners seem to know more than most of us when it comes to history and legacy of our land? How come they have to be the ones to write our story for us and we expect it to be accurate enough to pass to our children’s children? This is a collective effort of all of us! Let us all be proud of our heritage and preserve it through the coming generations as we teach them our morals and core values that distinguish us from every other continents of the world.
Let’s help ourselves. Please teach your children our language. Let them learn our culture. Give them our cloth to wear to understand our fashion. Take a clue from the cover photo of this article, these are children that we can count on to preserve the heritage of our beautiful African culture. No matter where we go or any place we have found home or even become citizen, the first fact can never be denied, “we are first Africans.”
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