Erosion of cultures by David G Maillu

The Case for Woman to Woman Marriage in Africa

By David G Maillu

Erosion of cultures by David G MailluThere is not a country in traditional Africa where the iweto woman-to-woman marriage was never practised.

On the face value, iweto (Kikamba term for something ‘lightly-talked-about’) is a young woman  ‘married’ to an old woman not for sexual relations (lesbianism) but for survival of the family. What qualifies the old woman to look for an “iweto” marriage is that, first and foremost, she has no husband either through misfortunes such as death. Besides, she lives alone, either because her daughters, if she has any, are married and they live with their husbands. Secondly, she has no son through whom the family can have children, putting into consideration the fact that in her world children are crucial social insurance for the family.

Now, in order for her to have someone to take care of her and give her a family lease through offspring, she goes out looking for a young woman who would accept the term that she would not have a husband in that home other than men friends who could father her children for the home. The old woman pays up the full bride price for the girl just like any other fully married woman to a man. It is a benefit to the old woman if the girl is already a mother brings home a child or children.

The young woman takes full care of the old woman until her death All the children born to the young woman would bear the family name of the old woman. The young woman would be the only heiress to the property of the old woman whom she would always address as ‘Mother’ but not as ‘husband’.

The iweto marriage should be understood under the licence that there were no children for adoption in traditional Africa. The only option left for the adopter was to adopt a fertile woman to bear children for the adoption. Many polygamous marriages fall within the adoption scheme whereby, if a husband is married to a barren woman, he can only adopt children by adopting-cum-marrying a fertile woman with him to have children for the adoption.

The social situation has changed today because there are free children for adoption without their mother; hence, the “iweto” scheme is outdated in many ways by modern events. But while it lasted, it was a noble thing. However, what remains in fashion today is still for a man to engage in polygamy because he wants to keep his first childless wife but he must go for a second wife in order to bless the family with the needed children

Men Want Femininity, Not Masculinity, in Women

By David Maillu
Published July 9, 2017

We are going through a serious gender identity crisis in which women are trying every trick to look like men. Does this mean the value of female is diminishing as that of men appreciate? What is the cause of this trend? There are few men who attempt to look like women because men are more proud of their identity than women are. Why is this so?

However much a woman tries to look like a man, she cannot be a man other than abusing the law of nature; with consequences. What men want in a woman is the essence of femininity – a real woman. They get disappointed when they find that femininity watered down by attempts to look like men. The best woman is that one who is proud of being female. Why is it that a man would radiate with pride when he is told “You are a real man” while many women would cherish the compliment, “You act like a man”? Any sensible man would consider it an insult if someone were to tell them, “You act like a woman.”

In Africa to be a woman earns the person utmost pride where woman wants to be appreciated for her role in life and consequently what she is in that role in which she plays an equal partnership but not a complementary partnership. The game change has become the worship of materialism which men worship and make gods out of themselves. One can argue that the depreciation of the female is heavily influenced by materialism.

On the materialism market both men and women are now thrown in the game as competitors to see who outsmarts the other. Metaphorically speaking, it is a ridiculous competition of running race between a man and a pregnant woman where, of course, man must be winner. It is almost insanity to expect equality of material performance between man and woman. Woman is the mother of woman and, by nature, she is given more responsibility in servicing life than man. At home, she is burdened with being the conceiver, deliverer, breast-feeder and caretaker of the child, while the husband reads newspapers and goes to nightclubs. Industrially she cannot be measured with the same weighing balance and considered man’s competitor. In other words, woman cannot be equal to man because, naturally, woman has a bigger social responsibility baggage than man.

Unearthing Buried African Values

Julius Nyerere, frst president of Tanzania.By the time Africans states freed themselves from European colonialism, there was very little of African values, leave alone aesthetics, that Africans could proudly stand for in defence. Using Shakespeare’s expression, the Whiteman had not come to Africa to praise African values but to bury African values and promote Whiteman’s values. How much of those buried values have we uncovered up to now?

The first Presidents, in the lead Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, Kenneth Kaunda and the others were forced to start restoring and building Africa cultural values from wrong cultural foundations. The first President to tackle the subject rightly was Nyerere with his introduction of African Socialism. Kaunda talked about African Humanism but did not go far.

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Kwame Nkrumah was the first post-colonial President of Ghana.In fact, by that time the library of Whiteman’s scholarship had published lots of works arguing that Africa was devoid of History and Philosophy. However, African scholars in the independent states took up to rewriting the cultural history of Africans. The question is, how far have they gone up to now?

The answer is,they have not gone far. In fact they are still in the woods. I take several points as examples to illustrate their failure. One quarter of world languages are spoken in Africa. Find out how many African scholars have a diploma or first degree in any of the languages whereas there are virtually thousands and thousands with doctorate degree in English, French, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Chinese!

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Kenneth Kaunda, the founding President of Zambia.The African continent can boast of having the widest varieties of food stuff in the world. Those who travel round the world know how aggressively Chinese menu has been promoted and what commercial status it has reached. What about the African massive menu?

Africa can boast of holding the largest field of traditional medicine in the world. But have our governments and scholars any devoted persons in the discovery and promotion of African medicine, African psychiatry, African psychology, African dietary? What are the consequences of that failure?

Ignoring Culture Undermines Development

By David G Maillu

Dissertation-clutching David G Maillu argues that ignoring African culture retards 'development' in all its possible manifestations.I am afraid we are on course for ignoring our cultural library and threatening our our cultural development. Instead of going forwards we are going backwards. That library holds an incredible collection of millenniums of socially and scientifically tested and successful living paradigms.

For instance, let us borrow a leaf from what happens in the Maasai community. If you steal a cow and you are caught, you earn the punishment of paying seven cows for the crime. The same goes when you steal a goat, sheep or whatever. Of course, paying seven cows is not that cheap. So, the victim cries to his family to help him raise the fine. The family responds with the assistance but on strict a condition that he should never, never repeat that mistake again. If he repeats the mistake he earns being disowned and chased away from the location or, in some cases, he gets disposed of.

In the culture we have imported religiously, you stand, as it were; that you only belong to the state. When you steal a goat you are arrested charged and imprisoned. But if you are smart, virtually you can buy justice through corruption. These days you can easily make profession out of stealing and getting away with it. The equation of your family doesn’t come in and its contribution y to national security safeguarding doesn’t come.

That explains why traditionally your family has the duty of exercising control over your social behaviour. If your family cannot contain you, it cries to your clan to help it contain you. Within that perimeter, your family would interfere when, as a married man, you resort to beating up your wife. Yes, she is your wife, but she’s your family’s wife too. You are because the family is and the family is because you are.

Within that framework, your sex is not yours exclusively. You are bound to earn your family’s punishment if you attempt to misuse or monopolize your sex. You should bear yourself with the realization that your sex is an asset to the family. The family is also capable of moving to help you solve your sexual problem.

It is a commonplace in traditional family that, for example, if the family has a married son who is mentally weak and there is fear in the family that he will end up fathering weaklings and subsequently weaken the family’s strength for its survival, the family takes a secret move to break the chain of fathering weakling. The family identifies an outside strong man and arranges for the wife to get a “seed” from him. The question of infidelity is overruled by survival necessities. This is religiously unquestionable. The outcome would benefit the family and, indirectly, benefit the survival the nuclear family. This is because a strong person within the family is good for the progress of the family. This arrangement is also applicable, going by the judgment of the family, if the husband is unable to father children with his wife.

The culture and religion we have proudly imported says that the sex of the couple belong exclusively to each other. Any deviation from that, whether for survival or for whatever reason, is a sin. It is also punishable by law. You are judged by the thermometer of your inclusive family. Your nuclear family is an engine put in place to run the collective welfare of the extended family on behalf of yourself, your extended family and community.

In other words your family is the watchdog of your nation. It is obvious what responsible role a solid family plays to the contribution of national security. This explains why in traditional settings crimes and jails do not exist. Now, what happens when you break away from the family hold in order to uphold the western concept of nuclear family where you pay tax only to the gods of individualism?

In spite of the many university graduates we are producing, in spite of the big multitudes of church worshippers flocking into churches and the big churches and mosques we are building, I am afraid, unless our social effort is founded on our cultural roots; the state is fighting a war that it will never win. Unfortunately, we are engaged in creating a culture of inhumanity and criminality in the name of civilization that, indeed, should be referred to as moral syphilisation.

Promoting African Values for Posterity

By David G Maillu

David Maillu sings, strumming his guitar, as Junxia Mbithe records it on a video camera.Recently I was confronted by one young man, let me call him Musangi who, perhaps in order to vent his frustration, argued with me sharply demanding, “Professor, what’s in these African values you people talk about which are invisible to us today anyway?”

I attempted to reduce his heat by advising him to simply address me as Maillu; but he backfired, “Why should I do that when you are one that lot?” On a light note he sarcastically said, “We look forward to that lot’s demise then we can find our own feet in our world and live happily thereafter.”

“That serious?” I asked and Musangi ridiculed, “Is your lot ashamed of getting old and becoming respectable elders? Every where I go I meet them with raven black dyed hair that they may to look young like us even when they are in your eighties?”

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From Musangi’s attack I realized something. That the old generation has gravely failed in delivering our traditional treasures to the young. That’s where the rains started beating us. Both the educated and the government should bear the blame.

Then I remembered Okot p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino in which the wife character expressed her pride is ridiculing the westernized husband. I further remembered Okot calling brides’ wedding dresses mosquito nets. Okot also asked the meaning of that rungu carried in Parliament, now spread over to be carried in parliaments of Country Governments without any explanation. Chief Justice Mutunga should be given credit for abandoning wearing that overflowing and stupid white-sheep-skin that Justice Gicheru was fond of wearing.

An epic fantasy graphic novel inspired by myths,legends, and historical events from across Africa as conceived by Kugali, a Lagos (Nigeria)-based arts outfit.The subject of “African values” is an immense subject that cannot be addressed in an article like this one. African values is the traditional cultural ship responsible for African interpretation of life and how to live that life. That ship is both the shrine and religion of the people. Period. That man indirectly was telling me we have defiled the shrine and almost become irrelevant to the present generation. Yes, there is the Kiswahili saying, Mwacha mila ni mtumwa; he who has abandoned his culture becomes a slave to other cultures. Very beautifully said.

However, on the ground we have not been promoting that culture. For example, in Kenya, we have got a Ministry of Culture that, ideally, should be the most important Ministry. But that Ministry is the most lost and toothless Ministry in the Kenyan government. Culture has been presented as watching traditional dances expressed by people dressed in skins, beating drums, jumping and the rest.

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Cultural promotion has been left to writers who, in any case, are working in hostile political climate in which they are perceived as liabilities. Notwithstanding, most of African writers run gravely short of being proud of their traditional values. That’s why they are at peace in aping foreign writers.

The government has taken a back seat in development and promotion of people’s cultural values. When Chinua Achebe wrote The Problem with Nigeria, instead of being given credit, he because the enemy of the Nigerian Government. The government was the mother and Achebe was trying to uncover his mother. The question was not what dangerous thing the mother was hiding under the dress.

The Centre for African Aesthetics GardenIn as far as promotion of African values is concerned, most African presidential regimes have utterly failed citizens. If there were courts of law for Presidents to face charges because of principally abandoning African values, they would all end in jail. But, those regimes have been terrorizing and imprisoning cultural activists.
The address should begin by answering this one million-dollar question.

What is there on the ground for the average person to make him/her feel proud of his cultural roots? When the visiting African Professor or Diplomat or tourist is travelling to Europe, Asia or America, what African values can he put on the bargaining table to show that he belongs to a civilization? He stands face-to-face with civilized people who are religiously proud of their cultural values when he is appears culturally rootless.

In nutshell African regimes and their Presidents are naked, crying to be dressed in imported clothes.

Back to my Musangi. I didn’t talk long with Musangi before I discovered that he had swallowed a couple of beers. Nonetheless, he had made an important point and was focused when he asked me, “Give me a sample of one of those values.”

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“In Maasai traditional law,” I said, “if you are caught having stolen a cow, you are sentenced to pay seven cows.” That is an effective deterrence for stopping your from stealing. Your family is involved in raising the payment. Your family is forms the checks and balances of your behavior. That is why your stealing propensity becomes highly controlled. In our imported law, your family is not the keeper of your moral register; you are on your own. If you steal a goat you will be arrested, charged and jailed. Which method is better in upholding morality – the imported or the traditional one?”

He agreed that the traditional one was superior. He opened the door for me to add that the integrity of the family is the backbone of African social order; and that a government is a replica of an extended family. The social fabric is broken in the nuclear the checks and balances of the extended family are removed. If the government catered for the full rights of the extended family, the government would harvest grand social order that would reduce sharply domestic disputes and need for the police force and prisons. In that traditional setting crimes were effectively obliterated from the communities and prisons did not even exist.

As things stand at this stage, it looks that the writer is the only messiah that could help in the recovery of those fast vanishing African values. His government is either suffering from both amnesia and shortsightedness. That’s awfully serious because the rot of a fish begins from the head.