By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
The introduction of foreign religions and ideologies in Africa has to some extent contributed to the breakdown of societal values and turned the majority of the people into hypocrites in their quest to choose whether to serve their new found beliefs or their African tradition.
Africa has a unique way of life and the people are receptive to their traditions and cultural practices as can still be seen in present-day Africa, while the adopted religions are still being viewed as aliens by many; thus, why it is common among most Africans to mix Islamic/Christian practice with African tradition.
People will tell you about the new holy books but then are knee deep in traditional practices which the ‘holy books’ are condemning. The spiritual dilemma of most Africans contributes to the reason why people’s morality on issues of corruption is damn because the traditions that once guide their way of lives are broken.
In villages guided by traditional values, there is always sanity, respect, and fear for the elders, and children are protected and cared for by society. Unfortunately, these values are corrupted by foreign religions that now corrupt the minds of people with dangerous ideologies.
The greatest irony now is some affluence Africans are ashamed to identify themselves in their African names or their places of birth because they have become blind and see nothing good about their cultures and traditions.
Is the snail thinking himself a chameleon?
The majority of Africans, if not all, believe in their ancestors, and the more than 3000 tribes have unique names for ‘God’ and the ‘gods’, indicating that our people believed and still believe in the supreme being as well as ‘life after death’.
In Sierra Leone all the tribes have unique names for God: for example, the Themnes call God ‘Kurumasaba’, the Mendes ‘Ngewo’, and Limba ‘Kanu Masala’. In Uganda, the Teso people call God ‘ Akuj’ while in Nigeria, the Yorubas call God ‘Olodumare’…indicating a belief in the supreme being, highly revered the omnipotent, the most powerful, the provider of the rains and fire, and the breath of fertility.
Cultures and values are different as are the people and continents and development of a particular nation is often influenced by tradition, and when that tradition is interfered with, there will be a total breakdown of values, it civilization, and threat to societal unity.
We have seen that happened in most parts of African because certain people are forcing their ideologies on others in the guise of faith and in doing so violating other people’s rights to security and totally alienating their existence.
Among UNESCO’s chief missions is to ensure space for freedom of expression to all the world’s cultures. It is, therefore, a matter of identifying and safeguarding every culture in isolation, but rather of revitalizing them in order to avoid segregation and cultural entrenchment and prevent conflict.
But it still remains to be seen how UNESCO will challenge those forces bent on destroying African beliefs.
Africa’s failure to truly recognize itself and once again come out in its full traditional regalia and beliefs is one of the reasons for the drop in the continent’s unique identity. Only a few countries are left to showcase the continent’s beautiful self.
Africa is experiencing a struggle in trying to bridge the gap between the adopted values/ ideologies and traditional and cultural beliefs, and faced with a younger population that is becoming more liberal and rebellious; the calabash has become more fragile.
For millions of years cultural and traditional practices have been passed from one generation to the other and they still dictate the socio-economic growth of the continent.
Like in most African countries, traditional doctors are the major healthcare providers of the majority of the people in Sierra Leone and though efforts are being made by the government to control their practice their influence has forced the government to accept their worth.
And unlike in the days when these people were underground, they now grace public platforms and walk the streets as proud men and women.
Africa can benefit more from its culture and tradition but that will only be achieved when this beautiful aspect is included in the curriculum of educational institutions for young people to know their history so that they can know themselves better, rather than left in the dark to walk the world in dilemma, not knowing their true identity.
Therefore, while the majority of our people in Africa are still strongly holding on to their traditional and cultural values there is a great need for efforts to be made by UNESCO and African governments to identify dying African religions and once again resurrect them for the people to feel free to practice what they love and believe.
Our ancestors are watching and expect the leaders to do the right thing to honour them!