African family and heritage

A Zimbabwean takes time to read a copy of the draft Constitution on the outskirts of Harare, Wednesday, March, 13, 2013. The country is set to hold a referendum on Saturday in which people are expected to vote for the adoption of the draft constitution as the country prepares to hold elections later in the year. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

EVERYTHING that a people do is done according to culture; their culture or someone else’s culture.
The Zimbabwe Constitution recognises the diversity of the peoples of Zimbabwe and says all of them are free to practise their cultures.
Zimbabwe is therefore a supermarket of cultures.
Africans who are not happy with their African cultures are free to follow other peoples’ cultures; and raise their children according to other peoples’ cultures; and teach them to practise sex rights, marriage rights, divorce rights and spouses’ rights of other peoples’ cultures available on the Zimbabwean supermarket of cultures; and lose their children to other peoples’ cultures and destroy their own African families and cultural heritage.
Those who cannot find suitable cultures on the supermarket, there is always the Constitution itself as the supreme law and culture of Zimbabwe.
Its ideas of the family, marriage rights, divorce rights and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage are European, not African.
They are based on Rhodesian family law, not African living law.
Those who marry according to the culture espoused by the Constitution of Zimbabwe marry as Europeans do, not Africans.
They dissolve their marriages as Europeans do, not Africans.
The Constitution puts emphasis, not on the values that bind the family or their marriage together, but on the individual rights and freedoms of the spouses to differ.
The Zimbabwean Constitution in its present form therefore speaks with a double tongue.
On one hand, it purports to protect the family as an institution while on the other hand it removes the values that bind the family and a marriage together.
For instance, it says, “The state and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must protect and foster the institution of the family and in particular, must endeavour, within the limits of the resources available to them, to adopt measures for the provision of care and assistance to mothers, fathers, and other family members who have charge of children; and the prevention of domestic violence.
Now, how do you preserve the institution of the family where spouses and children have divergent cultural practices in the same family?
For instance, the husband is a Christian and takes an uncompromising stance against Boko Haram.
The wife is a Moslem and agrees with Boko Haram on Western education as a sin.
The son is a homosexual and the daughter a transvestite.
How does one hold that family together and prevent it from coming to blows any time soon?
Here is another example of the Constitution speaking with a double tongue.
It says, “The state and all its institutions and agencies of government at every level, and all Zimbabweans citizens, must endeavour to preserve and protect Zimbabwean heritage and take measures to ensure due respect for the dignity of traditional institutions and indigenous knowledge systems, including knowledge of medicinal and other properties possessed by local communities and people.”
The question that comes to mind concerning the above is, how can you preserve what you do not believe in?
At the same time, the media and government institutions and churches in Zimbabwe are busy degrading indigenous cultures, traditions, customs and health practices as backward, superstitious, unscientific and harmful to society, unless converted to Western medical and health practices, which are upheld as civilised and scientific.
Here is the final example from the Zimbabwean Constitution which emphasises the rights and freedoms of African children to potentially rebel against their families and the guidance of their parents in their choices of spouses to marry.
The Constitution says, “The state must take appropriate measures to ensure that no marriage is entered into without the free and full consent of the intending spouses.”
Please note how the Constitution is silent on the importance of African children to seek their African parents’ consent.
I say ‘African parents’ consent’ because this is what is being conceived as unnecessary from the Zimbabwean Constitution.
Yet the same tradition of vigorous parental involvement and consent in children’s marriage which the Zimbabwean Constitution is bent on destroying has been in practice in England since time immemorial; the same England that our Constitution follows as an ideal model.
For example, even today, the Queen of England will not let her sons marry whoever they want or without her consent.
She would also not let them follow the cultural path of their choice.
Any of her children who think they can marry whoever they want and without her consent lose their turn of succession as Kings of England.
Queen Victoria cherished the tradition of girls preserving their virginity until they were married.
She would not allow sex outside marriage.
She introduced the chastity belt to protect the girl child from indulging in sex before marriage.
The same tradition is described by Jane Austin in her Elizabethan novels.
No boys or girls in her novels marry whoever they want without their parents’ approval.
Those who do so are disinherited.
The Zimbabwean Constitution in its present form is surely a time bomb to the values that bind us together as an African family in Zimbabwe with a proud heritage.


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