• We have really commodified some of our cultural practices in the name of tradition
• We just assume that is the way things have always been done and always will be
I have had a very tumultuous week.
Do you know those weeks where every day, you get a bigger and harder blow than the previous one? It was that kind of week.
I had to go back home to organise an upcoming ceremony, one of those that is packed with traditions and cultural beliefs, and it was hectic.
The first thing I realised is that I know very little about my culture.
In fact, I know very little about many African cultures, let alone mine.
The second thing I realised is that culture can drive you mad to the point of wanting to quit.
Can you even quit your culture? Your ethnic one?
I have debated that a lot this week, and I am still debating it.
This ceremony I am talking about involves a lot of traditions that must be followed to a tee.
It also involves money and it's not for the expenses that would have to be incurred. It's money that is supposed to be given to someone.
I'm sure you know how dowry negotiations go down. Well, it's almost the same thing, only it's not for a wedding.
Anyway, I feel like a lot of extortion is going on and all in the name of tradition.
Honestly, culture has us by the throat and we can't even fight back because it is the way things have always been done.
But then again, since I am so ignorant of my culture, perhaps I may be exempted from such future obligations.
Ignorance is bliss, after all.
I do know that the rate at which life is going right now, I don't know what exactly it is that we will be teaching our children about our roots and cultures.
In fact, I have a very strong feeling that most of our cultures will die with us, our generation.
The generation after us will only hear bits and pieces of what used to be the norm back then.
The more fortunate ones, maybe they will read about their cultures in history books.
Personally, I don't know what particular thing about my culture I will be teaching my children in the near future.
I mean, I can't even speak my mother tongue, which would be a great start, but that ship has sailed unfortunately for all of us (my future children and I).
But there are certain aspects of my culture and our traditions (a majority of African cultures actually) that need to die with us.
What is the point of extorting, for example, young men who just want to marry the young women they feel they are meant to spend the rest of their lives with?
If there was a reason in the first place, I don't know if it still has a place in modern society.
We should let it go.
It's really now or never because some toxic practices that still exist should have been done away with a very long time ago.
Maybe the generation back then didn't have the guts to do so.
Maybe culture had them by their balls and they had it worse than we have it now.
The Swahili saying Mwacha mila ni mtumwa (one who leaves their culture is a slave) doesn't mean much when such toxic practices are still around.