We are still rich in culture and surrounded by traditions we could live by, adopt or learn from especially the ones time-tested to work, that promote good values, freedoms, mutual respect and peace. In the same breath, there is also a need to reconcile traditions with evolving societies as Former US President Obama once offered.
There is a Swahili saying Mwacha mila ni mtumwa loosely translated to mean ‘He who abandons his traditions is a slave’ which I feel has been one of the tactics used to scare a people especially women, into submission and ridicule even when the said cultures were outdated, served no purpose or were detrimental in many ways.
It’s insane to think most discriminative traditions were created to preserve the patriarchy. What you would assume when growing up was a sign of respect was actually fear drilled into the system. So today I shall highlight unhealthy practices which exist in the current oppressive format that are either demeaning or harmful to the people they purport to serve.
1. The concept of dowry and bride price has lost its true meaning and is mostly abused now. This was first used as a means of solidifying new relationships between families but now it has become a prime business. So unless we trace back our roots and make this what it used to be, I see no reason for encouraging extortion. Can we also talk about how it encourages ownership right from the father ‘handing over’ the daughter to the groom assuming full ownership without any input from the bride? The bride isn’t even allowed to be in the negotiation room. C’mon patriarchy!
2. Speaking of ownership, wife inheritance (and by extension forced marriages) is such a disgusting and belittling practice that should have been buried with our ancestors but some communities still pride themselves in this. The sooner we realize women are not anybody’s property the better. Just because she married your brother does not give you the right to inherit her when your brother passes on. For a continent that suffers the most from increased incidences of HIV/AIDS, we sure are reckless and the ramifications will continue to haunt us. This also goes hand in hand with forced marriages.
3. In most African customs, daughters are banned from inheriting their father’s land and property. I applaud the legal frameworks that have been constituted in some countries to annul such ridiculous outdated structures. Women should be treated as the equals that they are.
4. Female Genital Mutilation is a very harmful practice that served to control women’s libido. Anything that touches on women’s autonomy over their bodies I have a problem with.
5. Check out these harmful body modifications and rituals that are still practised in some communities as initiation rites.
6. Some communities still practice virginity testing to shame and punish those found not to be ‘clean and pure’ and this is conducted by older women.
7. Anyone still found committing child labour should be incarcerated, as simple as that.
8. The culture of human sacrifice through mutilation and murder against people living with disabilities and vulnerable members of the society including children as a way of appeasing the gods or spirits to bring ‘wealth and luck’. Currently, people with albinism in some countries have suffered the most and live in fear of being sold to the black market for their body parts.
9. Associating left-handedness with disability, disrespect or disgrace to the society. Can somebody confirm to me that right-handed people clean their bum bums using only the left hand? I need answers for this video.
10. Lastly, we should stop worshipping politicians and treating them as demigods. This has cultivated a culture of impunity. They are walking around feeling untouchable and guess who is suffering and still languishing in poverty? You guessed right, definitely not their families.