by Sharon Daplaah
The African Culture is a way of life. Africa is rich in colour, social values, social norms and that which is also firmly rooted in other cultures around the world due the dark days of slave trade.
Culture according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is “the customs and beliefs, art, way of life and social organization of a particular country or group.” The African culture in the mist of its great customs, beliefs, beautiful art, and rich social organization is also one culture whose proponents are the “gods of the land”.
These gods have curved out a way for our women which are very unsuitable for the fast growing trend of the world’s modern development.
In the mist of this culture that is set to seem “holy” and cannot be altered except the gods, is African women who are full of energy and strength yet are limited in expressing themselves to the benefit of society because culture is holy, it’s sacred and cannot be changed.
Ironically her meager achievements within her strict culture seem to be getting the world’s attention. Conversely in her stricken poverty which can be attributed to the African social restrictions and some world politics she knows nothing about she is still firm and manages to survive in the messed world created without any reverence to her very existence.
In today’s fast growing world, a large chunk of African women are still lacking behind for no good reason but on the basis of cultural practices and sometimes denied their basic fundamental right to be educated. For many who have no choice settle for an early marriage of which usually they have no interest or whatsoever in. She has to bear the burden of becoming (if lucky) the 7th wife to an old, frail and feeble man who’s almost near his grave yet is expectant of his teenage wife to bear for him children to that of a size of a football team only to boost his meager ego of being the wealthiest in his village (size of a man’s family is a measure of his wealth).
Alas, the old, frail and feeble man gives up to the waiting darkness and what’s next? He leaves his teenage wife to cope with a life which is not her calling. So what kind of society will deprive her women of all the care, will-power to make her own choices?
Our traditions, culture, beliefs define us and make up our total being leaving us with a sense of identification so that one can say she’s an Ashanti, an Ibo, a Soso, a Fulani etc. Our cultural traditions are good and must be held in high esteem at all cost.
However culture is dynamic and so should the traditions in our cultures. Some of these traditions should be subject to the changes that takes place over time periods, more especially when they have proven to retard development.
African practices such as trokosi (girls given up to the gods in a atonement of the sins committed by a dead relative), early marriages, female circumcision and infibulations, polygamy, forced marriages and many more all affect women adversely and subsequently affecting development since women are key partners in development.
All these practices should be eschewed from our way of live and new cultures
should be embraced.
Embracing other traditions of the world does not mean we as Africans should doubt our traditions and beliefs. Lets look deep into ourselves, lets look at how far our cultural traditions have brought us in the light of development and lets rebuild ourselves with what I will term as “a holistic culture” i.e., the culture of the world, without getting rid of our culture totally but rather those figments of practices that have forestalled the development of women and hence Africa as a whole.
We should also fuse into other ways of life that encourage the development of women in Africa.