Once upon a time and preserving cultures

Once upon a time, in a far away land, somewhere in Africa there lived a very humble man who just loved his God. He obviously had no problem expressing this love and as poor as he was, he had such admirable courage. With his small old sheep skin drum under his arm he will roam the streets of his town  drumming and singing as loud as he could ‘ko ko ko Mawuli’ meaning ‘There is a God’ in the  Ghanaian ewe dialect.

He will do this every single day, from sun set to sun down. This habit of his caught the attention of the king and he was summoned to the palace to answer a few questions. A couple of people in his town were not so happy about his habit and had reported to the king about this poor man who just won’t shut up. And now here he was, just a poor man with only enough to eat called to this majestic palace where he sure doesn’t fit in to answer to the king’

‘How great is this God you sing about?’ His majesty asked.

‘Oh! He is so great. Greater than any king on the earth. With one hand, He can split the sea in two. Pour down rain. He makes the fruits of the farm grow. He causes the sun to rise. There is nobody, Your Majesty. Nobody on this earth that compares to the God I sing about.’

Everybody including the king was baffled by this poor man’s courage and a little curious about His God. So it was decided to put this very articulate man’s God to the test. He was given a task to keep the king’s special ring and return it in two weeks. The task seemed simple but there was a little twist and he lost the ring. How will he escape the punishment of beheading? Will this God he makes noise about show up and save him?

This story is one of my favorite African stories of all time told by my great grandmother. For some reason, people are surprised when they find out my 80 year old great grandmother still tells me stories. Apparently, that tradition died a long time ago with most Ghanaian families. The older generation is either going to the grave with their rich morally wrapped African stories or the younger generation has no interest in them. They would rather turn on the television, browse the net or stay on their mobile phones than be told the old interesting African stories.

As far as I can remember sister, as we call her has always told us stories.  She just loved to gather all her great and grand children and tell us stories .We will all sit at her feet on the compound of our family house most evenings to hear her. All  on a floor mat and with all attention fixed on her, sister will start. ‘Nta ny3 loo nka ta ny3’ and with so much eagerness we will respond ‘w) mli  here bo n) ta w)’ meaning we are listening to you, tell us. That is the opening of her stories. She asks ‘should I or should I not tell you?” in the Ghanaian Ga dialect

Our story night ceased for a while because civilization crept on my extended family and we all started to move out of the family house one by one to form a nuclear families. Sister, however has never stopped telling her stories and once in a while we will pin her down to retell us the stories that are fading in memory.  Old age is catching up and she would forget pieces of the stories at times but we always bring her back.

The tradition of storytelling is definitely something I will pass on to my children and their children and I believe that  no matter how progressive civilization is, it should never change or shed off some very important cultures .If there are African traditions that has to be preserved , storytelling  is one. Especially because of the moral values they are wrapped in. We know the value of our rich culture so let’s make a conscious effort to preserve it. Apart from being owners of our culture we should be preservers of it too.