By Charles Dube
HAVE you ever heard some youths and even adults denigrate their own culture, especially as they try to reconstruct how they could have come about?
Did your parents ever warn you on some genus of trees you should never use for firewood or certain foods your family should not eat?
Is there something you do that your parents have said you should not do as a matter of family policy?
Are you a gentleman/lady and what is your understanding of being a gentleman/lady?
Is your understanding of being a gentleman/lady about being educated or knowledgeable and conforming to the European way of doing things?
What is your understanding of being Christian?
Is there a Christian culture and, if you believe so, what is your understanding of such a culture?
Culture and religion were the central agenda item for the first recorded Church Council meeting of Christendom in the book of Acts.
The issue was whether Hebrew culture should be packaged as an integral part of the Christian faith.
Paul, the Apostle to the gentiles, did not agree and his view won the day at the Jerusalem Council meeting.
Even to this day, believers have tended to associate the cultures of the purveyors of the Christian faith as integral and essential elements for salvation.
Thus, in some denominations, white weddings are essential for acceptance into full fellowship, while those married traditionally might not even participate in sacraments, let alone be allowed to occupy positions of authority in the church.
Some have been declared prohibited immigrants to heaven by denominations for conforming to their own traditional practices.
Thus, the Church has come in handy as a vehicle of cultural imperialism by destroying our indigenous knowledge systems.
Today’s texts allude to issues of culture and tradition.
Even our education system exposed us to the Western education system Monday to Friday and then the acculturation programme, the real prime purpose of making us conforming subjects happened on Friday afternoons for day scholars and evenings for boarders in what was supposed to be our take home and even multiplier spread effects back home.
We were given topics for debate in gatherings that would now involve the whole school and those debating on the affirmative or opposition addressed their audience as ‘ladies and gentlemen’.
The audience was expected to tally in their minds who had scored better points and invariably it was eloquence and good diction that won the ladies and gentlemen’s hearts. The two sides were never meant to agree and those on each side of the debate’s preoccupation was to let their side win the day.
We were being aligned to the contrary conscripted conformist spirit where we would coalesce as opposing groupings even in real life for the ease of divide and rule as well as manipulation by international capital.
In teaching their own children, the colonialists distinguished between real life skills and banter.
We were sold a dummy!
Consequently, we are landed with ‘ladies and gentlemen’ ruling and opposition parties in the Third World.
We are faced with a ‘ladies and gentlemen’ judiciary system for the delivery of justice where a judge will sentence an innocent individual to long imprisonment because he had no lawyer to put across the point the judge knew very well or because the lawyer left out an essential procedural part expected of the learned profession.
We even have ‘ladies and gentlemen’ preachers whose sermons are designed to score points more than inculcate the benefits of the gospel and the meaning of salvation.
Our education system is manned by ‘ladies and gentlemen’ educators as well as ladies and gentlemen students and pupils, even our supposed centres of excellence.
We even have ‘ladies and gentlemen’ businessmen and bankers.
I will expand these parts as part of a book.
And yet our culture, traditions and indigenous knowledge systems are not based on this popularised dummy.
God emphasises the importance of culture, even as exposed by how He represents it in the 10 commandments.
Our parents are the medium through whom we get socialised and acculturated.
Thus, God prescribes that we honour our fathers and mothers.
Of the 10 commandments, this is the only commandment with a promise.
The promise being so that you will live long.
God gives it as part of our survival kit this side of heaven. We cannot prosper and live long is we do not observe our culture.
Look at those countries seemingly doing well and observe how they adhere to their cultures.
With the Hebrews having formed and grown into a nation under the Egyptian African sun from a group of about 70 immigrants to over five million people over 400 years, is it any wonder their culture is very African in many respects.
In fact, Africans relate very well to most of the Bible stories for the cultural setting is identical.