Monday, January 24, 2011

Evolution of Tradition.

Is it possible that the hem that holds Africa together could be the blade tearing us apart?

Tradition definition:cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs and institutions.

As far as African civilisations go, it was apparent that the woman's role was mostly submissive; hardly any administrative role. So an old adage tells us 'the place of the woman is in the kitchen' .I wonder what the guy who came up with this line would say now in an era where women run industries, homes, countries. My question is how is it possible to prescribe to traditions that were there centuries ago, imposing them in the 21st century?

Can tradition evolve? Hell yeah.

case study:

Polygamy was an African practice pre christianity era. Men would be allowed upto as many wives as they could afford. Today, most African countries that have embraced christianity have shunned polygamy and have opted monogamy, ofcourse because of their new found beliefs.Infact in some African countries it is illegal to have more than one wife.

Lets not even pretend for one second that traditions are not evolving. But why are we still holding our women captive all in the name of tradition? Clearly someone is making the decisions of what traditions to carry forward into the future and which ones to make illegal. Who makes this decisions if not us. Or worse still we have let 'someoneelse' make those very vital decisions for the growth of this continent.

It is important to know where you are coming from to know how much further you need to go to get to your goals. The challenge for Africa is an evolving one. With new infrasturcture, technology, globalization etc we are slowly consuming a lot of influences from all over the world and the adverse effects are breaking us further apart as a continent. Africa is losing its identity of being the source and is now characterised by wars, poverty,diseases and all kinds of suffering.

It shouldnt be this way you know. I believe our tradiotions will be our identity. But surely we cannot be prescribing to old traditions. The evolution of our traditions as a continent will be key in uniting this continent. We should be proud of our differences from the rest of the world. Let the world emulate us. Let them want to be us.

I fear that my childrens' children will never understand what Africa is and its potential. Why? because day by day we lose our identity. 100years from now, the whole world will be one big village(we are slowly heading there). No culture, No morals, No identity. How important is your own identity to you?

Key Point: Lets embrace change as a continent. Sustainable change for all,with no ulterior motives of trying to hold back one group of people from progressing. We need our traditions,as a blue print so we can never lose our identity.

Thats all Im saying.


  1. Nice piece Sheila...#Africa 4 Africa together we stand together we can!

  2. "We need our traditions as a blueprint, so we can never lose our identity"...that line is so so true dear. Another beautiful piece, that's all I'm saying.

  3. Nice one dear but we still have alot of work to do among ourselves.Even though we r blessed with a lot of good things but we still need to work towards our traditions,educational levels,economy,health and many other aspects,by so doing we'll be a great continent together.thanks for the piece.

  4. So true CHINEZE...thanks yall ladies for takin time out...Discuss this issues with your friends =,colleagues,spouses,kids...see what they think.

  5. In Swahili we have a saying that "mwacha mila ni mtumwa" in english it roughly translates that a person who gives up their beliefs or traditions looses his / her identity. I don't dispute that we have beliefs and traditions that hold us back as a people but at the same time if you get to learn a lot about our culture you'll find that most of these traditions were put there to guide us as a people.

    Don't we think that soon we'll lack our own identity, that our culture will be eroded that our children's children will not have anything to identify themselves with.

    My take is, we let go of some of the traditions that hold us back as a people like wife inheritance in some cultures, genital mutilation or female circumcision, marrying off of girls at a young age, killing children who've been born with disabilities etc etc And hold on to traditions that DEFINE WHO WE ARE.

  6. Sweetest SHEILA.nice one.we need our tradition in other not to loose our identity.GOOD ONE!!!

  7. I do agree that traditions should not be discarded but shaped (evolved as you say) and changed to fit the modern society. Traditions like customs are dynamic, so do languages e.g the English we speak now is not what was spoken days of Shakespeare.
    But as we take western culture we should also ape what will benefit us as Aficans, and whatever local traditions bring us down like FGM we can mould or discard them.

  8. Traditions can definitely evolve. We need to change with the times but also ensure we do not forget our is challenge, but its possible...I like your concept of Africa 4 Africa...can't wait for more posts on the topic.

  9. If everyone does their part by starting the conversation and sticking to it,we will get there. Step by Step.

  10. Thanks sheila,your definition of tradition and relating it to African traditional beliefs would be correct but I would want to relate it to how God created us as woman and his role for us in the first instance.God created us woman to have a womb(that is right from conception,a woman nourishes a child from her body while a man is free)and have a set of mammary gland(breast)to feed the child even after the the child is born,that brings an emotional attachment towards that child and defines a woman path as in takings care of the child and brings about that popular adage that a woman place is in the kitchen.I think that it is not the guys or tradition that came up with it but going with the line of our physical attribute that created us with in the first place.Does it mean that that's is all our duties as woman NO'.We as women have started adding to the original duties giving to us by God,we now work(which by the way we have been doing since the beginning of time only now we do it differently and the hours are long).Woman of old go to the farms to help their husband,they go to market to sell produce from the farm and still handle the duties at home.The 21st century has brought in some set of women who do not want to set their priorities right and state what they want ({1},a carrier {2}a carrier and a husband who understand {3}a carrier,a husband who understand and a child)and each of these choice having different level of commitment to each but when we fail to state what we want society would determine it for us.A carrier woman has no business getting a husband and a child if she does not want to work harder for them.
    Polygamy as a tradition started in the time of David and Solomon in the bible but the new testament change this that a deacon should be a man of one wife.I think the most influence in stopping polygamy has been poverty and hungry and the sense on having a peaceful home.A man would first have to make enough to feed his family before he stop his wife from working not to talk about marrying a another wife.We as woman should define our goals in life before entering carrier choice and having a family.

  11. We need our traditions,as a blue print so we can never lose our identity. Well said Sheila. Because identity is important, embrace the good evolution and leave out that that will corrupt our identity

    -TRADITION: is an idea/belief/custom taught from one generation to the next.

    -Tradition could have been the result of someone's HABIT emulated by another & d chain-reaction continues.

    -Most times, the ORIGIN of a tradition is lost or the ESSENCE of it can be exaggerated, distorted or biased towards a particular interpretation while in the process of PASSING ON these traditional values.

    -Right now, AFRICA'S is barbaric: Wars, Poverty & Diseases. Even CORRUPTION is fast becoming our tradition.

    so together, let's break the jinx of our TRADITION as we POSITIVELY pursue in the line of EVOLUTION!!!

  13. Nice piece Sheila bebz

    bottom line is, lets get dynamic, embrace positive change BUT NEVER LOSE OUR AFRICAN IDENTITY

    that is all im saying


  14. Thank you for planting this seed Sheila. I always like using the Asias and the Europes when making my point, purely because I realise that our people relate better to things outside of our known environments. I am referring to how we tend to idolise all things Western and for Spiritual reference we choose all things Eastern, maybe because they sound sophisticated?!. Have you ever observed how Indians, no matter where they go, the stick to their ways, no matter how 'sophisticated' they are? They dress the way they do and make it look cool enough for other nations to want to follow suit. They practice body pearcing and body art and the rest of the nations follow suit. They never compromise the traditions no matter where they are in the world.

    It's the same thing with the Scottish. During their national events, the wear their 'skirts' with pride and play their bagpipes to create music that the nation appreciates. Africans on the other hand have this need to be seen as 'civilised'. In my country South Africa we are the greatest culprits. How I wish we would apppreciate our Africanness, unique traditions and lamnguages. We would rather bite our tongues trying to speak the languages of the colonising masters with our children, than teach our children their native languages. When I dress in my traditional healer's attire, ppeople do not even want to stand next to me in 'civilised' places such as banks. People look at you as if you are trash and stink. Funny how when dressed in Western clothing, they even try to impress the same person whom they don't want to be associated with when she is in traditional clothing. I am proud to be an African and admire people like Thabo Mbeki, Thandiswa Mazwai, Sheila and Femi Kuti because they are vocal and proud of their African identity. They are great ambassadors of African unity and do not see themselves above any nation in the continent. In all they do they preach African rennaisance. I wish many more people, especially the educated masses, I wish they would embrace who they are, their traditions and African ways of living in Modern day Africa. Maybe most of the solutions for our continent would come from that connection...a spiritual connection with our soil, our whispering mountains, the conversant rivers, the weeping forests, the blankets formed by our rich and pure skies and the energy source that is the African Sun. Maybe then, even God will once again favour the African family.

    There is so much rich heritage in our history, yet we shun it. One day our descendants will not even know that there was once a black Africa. Maybe coloured and white Africa will be the only remaining colours. Slowly but surely the natives of our continent are slowly being phased out. Look at the nation I am a descendant of, the Koisan people. They are now endangered. They cannot even use their natural senses anymore. They no longer know hoe to make rain and live in the wild. They are an endangered species, now under the 'science lab-like' control of the Western nations. IbuyaMbo liyafuneka maAfrika amahle. That's Xhosa for ' we need to go back to our roots my beloved beautiful Africans'Thank you once more Sheila.

  15. African tradition needs to be revieve by our leaders.
    @joy Anyango, your blog is wonderful.