By Simba Jama
AFRICANS have their own constitution, worldview and beliefs.
Yet their constitution, worldview and beliefs are colonial and of foreign origins.
We have a Western orientation and attitude towards education, employment, governance and foreign policy.
We are not trying to be ourselves, but instead we try to meet Western standards in almost every respect of our lives.
Our grooming is based on our hate for African phenotypical features which we inherited from our former colonisers and slave masters.
African hair, in its true nature, is frowned upon; beginning at home, then school and the workplace.
Thus, blacks are forced to comb their hair to discourage it from turning into locks.
Furthermore, blacks are required to keep a hairstyle called ‘English cut’, which is minimal hair that is a few millimetres from a bald cut.
Yet I never see English people wearing this English cut as they often keep their hair long enough to wave around.
The hairstyle is required by ‘varungu vatema’ so that their presence among whites can be acceptable.
A blackman with an Afro or dreadlocks may be too unrefined for them.
But how free would the blackmen and women be if they could be permitted to keep their natural hair and texture.
Arabs, whites, Chinese and Indian people never alter their hair to suit the standards of any foreign group.
However, blacks are deprived of this luxury because someone convinced them that they are ugly in their natural form.
This is done subconsciously through magazines, television and so on.
All the celebrities or role models shown to us are either foreigners or blacks who uphold Western dressing and grooming standards.
For example, almost every young black woman idolises Beyonce Knowles and Robyn Rihanna Fenty because they are black and talented.
But because they both wear weaves and wigs of Cambodian origin or other straight human hair, their followers relax their hair to make it straight, wear weaves and wigs of synthetic or human hair as well.
When you ask black women why they do such things, they often reply: “It is because our hair refuses to straighten.”
It is African hair — it is not supposed to straighten.
African hair has flat, as opposed to round, follicles which allow the hair to curl and be an effective buffer between the skull and the sun’s heat.
When it comes to festivities, Africans have adopted colonial ones and abandoned their own.
There are rain-making, offering (mapira) and harvest festivities, among others, which our ancestors used to follow annually.
Nowadays, though we are independent, no efforts have been made to encourage Africans to host their traditional festivities.
Some may argue no one is forced but why are there no public holidays for these indigenous festive days?
If one asks for a week-long break to go for a bira, that request would most likely be turned down because such is not considered a national holiday.
The Chinese have their own grave sweeping and offering ceremony which they call Qingming.
There is a week-long national holiday to make sure each person returns to the rural areas to observe this traditional feast.
The same goes for the Spring festival, which is their New Year.
Yet we only reserve such holidays for Western festivities like Christmas and Easter.
Traditionally, the most important provisions a man needs are land, sun and water.
With these, one can build, cultivate, raise livestock, mine and hunt.
The colonisers removed the blacks from their land and brought them into towns.
We left the free homes we had for generations for the cities which require us to buy, build or rent houses without land to give us our provisions.
So, we work, receive a salary and spend for a living.
Yet the former colonisers are to be found in these same rural or farm lands that we left.
They cultivate, raise livestock, hunt, mine and do all the things our ancestors did.
We only see such whites entering the city to bank their earnings and purchase property to rent out.
Africans have a high fertility rate.
Thus, the Europeans introduced family planning to limit our birth rates.
While God is saying be fruitful and multiply, the whiteman says we are too poor to have many children.
Traditionally, copulation was strictly for reproduction and each woman would birth eight-to-10 children in a life time. They would begin birthing early and would resign before menopause to care for the large family.
A woman would then choose a second wife for herr husband, often from her own family, to take care of the birthing requirements.
Polygamy, however, was frowned upon by whites because it increased the birth rate of blacks.
Some cases of polygamy were caused by charity.
For example, when a brother passed away and left behind a widow, she could be given to one of the brothers as a wife.
Many Africans have their own education and initiation systems. These they no longer attend because of the influence of Western religions, like Christianity.
Yet attending and graduating from such traditional institutions will allow the members of each tribe to learn their own poetry, history, culture, dances, drum beat, songs and skills, like hunting.
The Xhosa, Venda, Swati, Remba, Chan’ani, Yao and Masai are a few examples of African groups with a traditional education system.
Names are critically important for they indicate someone’s identity.
A white man is fit to have a European name, and a blackman an African name.
Why then do Africans find themselves adopting English names.
Slaves would even have their last names taken away, only to be given that of the slave master.
Now when a black American inventor, like Lewis Latimer of the electric light bulb, has his name said out, one would think that American is white, unless it is indicated that he is, in fact, black. The name itself must tell it all.
The African education system saw to it that every initiate who graduated was given a new tribal name which, at times, was ancestral.
This would solidify one’s identity.
Our culture is rich, with manners and benevolence taking centre stage in a way that most other races do not.
We are taught to use our right hand to eat, receive and pass objects to others.
The left hand is used when handling grave stones.
We are taught to announce our presence before entering a homestead by rhetorically yelling: ‘Tisvikewo!’ meaning ‘can we come forth’.
Clapping cupped hands is required when greeting and thanking and also stooping down low — there are varying versions of doing so according to one’s sex.
All these fundamentals are taught to the African child at home and in society and are a part of our traditional education.
Yet now, following Western norms and standards as opposed to indigenous ones is threatening the survival of this rich culture, which is our heritage.
The Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and many Muslim nations are proud custodians of their own culture and the West respects them for that.
We have become mere wannabes of the West and that is not a respectable trait.
Accept who you are, as you are, and you will find much relief, freedom and self-respect.