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.

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.

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