As we walked down the path across the lake where people had set camp and enjoying fishing, a conversation ensued when three teenagers aged twelve, passed by puffing cigarettes and really could not be bothered what any one thought.
Another instance, and a man walked on Wickford road some where in Essex with an almost done cigarette by the right hand while he held onto a little boy with the other hand as they hurried by.
A drunk father and a mother enjoying her cigarette while all four of their children followed their parents as they walked hand in hand at Northfolks park in Pitsea.
While they waited for a train on a Sunday morning, the young man of African descent smiled at the elderly black woman who looked like she was from West Africa and paid his respects by greeting. The elderly woman responded and said ” Very impressive, your colleagues seem to forget these days where they come from all in the name of modernity”
“What could possibly be the cause for these children who have observed first hand practices not to take up smoking or perhaps any other habit when they grows up? While we are careful not to jump the gun, I will like to ask, “what also made the young African in the name of modernity throw away rich cultural values?”
I am tempted to recall also some time back in Ghana and many other places on the African continent when a young lad will pass by an elder and would utter without thinking, greetings, and the elderly, responds with great pride by asking how he or she was doing.
When Yaw did something wrong, his mother wasn’t the only one to scold him or put him right. Aku’s mother or any elderly person had the right to do so.
Modernity has a very interesting way of tagging this lifestyle as old fashioned. Nowadays, you hear the famous expression “mind your own business”. The argument is this, do you mind your own business when not getting involved has a high tendency of affecting you negatively?
This is a good basis to recall the good old days when every body in the community was each others keeper. Casting my mind back and I like the illustration that Sobonfu Somecute, one of the foremost voices in African spirituality analyses communal spirit and exercising Ubuntu;when she made a perfect illustration using her background as an indigene from Burkina Faso.
In her words she said, one persons problem in the community if can’t be solved by another, who ever tried to solve the challenge goes to call many others until a solution is found for this individual. In other words, everybody’s problem is a communal problem. Africans ate together in the homes in the same bowl as a sign of togetherness and to strengthen the bond of brotherliness.
An interesting trend these days when modernity seems to, like a hurricane ,wipe away the rich norms and values of our people to a culture faraway a distant shore yet to be understood because of its constant twists and turns.
Regardless of where you come from, it is a fundamental truth that family and community living helps to shape societies. From my African mindset, we can practice development even better and integrate Africa much faster if we go back to these ideals that shape us.
Joining the subway or tube or any other transportation system either in New York, London or any where in Europe and I smile each time I read the sign, priority seat for pregnant mothers, and the elderly.
This is an unwritten law back home in Ghana where I come from where any younger person would gladly offer their seat to the elderly at least, they get to be blessed at the end of the day, but primarily to show regard for the aged. My worry is, are these principles still held in high esteem?
Gradually, these norms and values that corrected society by virtue of western influence has been labeled “primitive”
My question is this, does modernity mean that we deviate from that which builds on our value system, makes us more responsible and adopt one which shifts us from this focus?