My Fascination with African Culture!
Behold the African culture! Behold the allure of familism and tough parenting! That style of living where kinship, parental authority, family bonds, and mutual interdependence hold sway. Warmth is the cord; respect is the compass; cooperation and support constitute the spine of the affiliative spirit that fuel family relationships. The family is nuclear and extended and family ties are prioritized. So frequent in celebrating robustly but hosting of feasts and festivals are collective. There is always one celebrant, but multi heads of resources from all that counts as family members. Each member contributes according to the capacity and available resources. Never alone in joy and sorrow, good mental hygiene is enabled. The individual is subsumed in the family while the family prioritizes the wellbeing of every family member. The ripples of kinship bind the community into a family. Every child is a child of the community; every adult is a parent to all children in the community. Though the burden of this bond could sometimes be overwhelming, communalism and solidarity are seen as superior to individualism.
Parental authority encompasses overt discipline, obligation, support,
and referent. Spare the child and spoil the rod underlying parental directives. Reprimands and sanctions accompany misconduct. Love and praises are covert in the attitudes and behavior of the parents towards the children. Wisdom resides in maintaining family honor in decisions and behavior. Obedience to parents, respect to elders of the family, and others outside the family are sources of blessings. The child takes up responsibilities in the family wellbeing dutifully.
Behold a culture that is now more in the past than in the present! Behold the regret of individualism and soft parenting! Is the centrality of familism waning, or taking different dimensions? The extended family network is overtaken by focus on personal achievement. The community and the adults have little or nothing to add to parenting the children of the others. The parents have “invisible” competitors in providing guidance and directions to their children. The ubiquitous media abound in role models. For the children and adolescents, there is push and pull over the values ingrained in the family culture and the external influence. Some measure the standards of parental discipline and love with those of the other climes in the media content they consume. The parents have to deal with adopting parenting styles in tune with the children’s expectations or struggle with the children’s opposition to the high parenting authority. Whether soft parenting or tough parenting, the answer resides in the results reaped from global history and experiences!
My fascination with Africa lies in the beauty of her values and norms that entrench us in the realms of the essence of creation. The nature of man is cultivated in filiation and fraternity. The community of kinship with a high level of family bonds provide succor to life challenges. Would the community of ideologies be more effective than family bonds? My fascination with Africa is not nostalgic! It is the dynamism of culture which breathes with the best practices in the civilization of humanity.
Ifeyinwa Awagu Esq is the Director, Institute of Humanities at Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.