Do you know what the greatest joke ever told is? It’s the one when people from abroad came and told us Africans that our tradition is funny and we laughed! Ha-ha-ha, right? It’s really not funny, truth be told, but it does make a laughable joke out of us. Imagine a people who now work so hard to escape being caught in the act of being “too much” of themselves, is that not amazing? That’s my generation – the post 80s African kids who want to fit into the global pop culture so much that they damn near cringe at the sound of the word “tradition”. The only thing African that is left in us is the fact that we were born here. Do you know what else was born here? Goats, cattle, chickens and trees amongst others (go-figure). Birthright alone doesn’t account for much when speaking to a character. A lot of us are only African by name, if we are being honest. Our cultures have been vilified and demonized, and we’ve bought the whole line! But if you were to stop and really think about it, just ask yourself how different are we really from the rest of the world that we should be so ashamed?
I have such a fun time watching people (including family and friends) move back and forth between their own double standards about African cultures versus the global popular cultures. Let’s take food for instances. It is my observed fact, backed by the sources that be such as Instagram and television, that the new age African youth will more readily consume unusual foods that come from abroad before they try anything as “primitive” and “disgusting” as the African delicacies. Mopane worms (large edible caterpillars found in Southern Africa) are quite unpopular with the average young African today for reasons given such as their slimy movement whilst they are alive, their dryness when cooked and well… because they look like huge black worms, to be frank. But, when that same young African wants to “treat” themselves out at dinner in a restaurant, they will gladly order snails, oysters, sushi (which is rawfish) and baby octopus (read that again, it’s a BABY!!), because apparently those foods are not slimy when they move or disgusting to look at. Think about it, imagine the snail, see it crawling, and just hold that thought. Yet still, we are embarrassed by our own ways.
I would bet that at least 5 out of 8 people reading this right now know who Queen Khaleesi from the hit TV series, Game of Thrones, is. I didn’t watch it a lot (even though I think she’s pretty hot) but I was always impressed by how she introduced herself every time. She made sure to tell that she was from the house of Targaryen, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, Lady of Dragonstone, The Unburnt, Mother of Dragons. Does that method of introduction sound at all familiar to you? It should because those are clan praises. The very same thing we did before it became “uncool” to do! That’s why I can also then confidently bet again that only 1 out of the same 8 people reading this right now knows their own clan names and clan praises. If you’d like to dispute it, it’s okay, I’ll wait! Friends, we have got to do better. In Africa, when we ask who you are, we expect you to know your whole story.
Make no mistake, however, and I don’t want you to get me wrong on this; I know just how much the intelligent system of colonization really did a number on us. But I’m saying that it’s about time we claimed our confidence back and sugar coating things won’t get us there. The Arab nations, The Indians and the East Asians proudly protect and flaunt their cultures for us to see. Here in Africa, we are lukewarm. We can dress the part on occasion, but just mention a traditional healer and the first thing that comes to mind is witchcraft. Yet, they are not remotely the same thing. Somebody lied to us. We confidently pray to Mary and also refer to Paul, John, and Matthew without even once realizing that these are also just people who have passed the earth too. Technically, they are ancestors. So it begs the question why ours don’t qualify as saints too? Who set that rule? Please, fellow young Africans, start to question everything and relearn everything afresh. Our ways have always been beautiful, we just need to remember. Being African is more than just a name.