BY NONSO EGBO
Heritages do not die, rather it lives for the present and future. Africa is a continent endowed with a lot of cultural heritages.
Heritages are unique and cherished characteristics or features of a society that are passed down through generations via deliberate efforts of preservation.
In Africa, cultural heritages are those original or ingenious activities, experiences, events that are preserved and transmitted through oral tradition or in a written concrete form that are passed down across generations of human society.
Traditions like tales/dance by the moonlight, adages, lullabies, poems/proverbs, riddles, incantations, and other unique activities make for cultural heritage in Africa.
In Kati, Mali to be precise, when a horse is beaten by illness and cannot stand, it suffices for a woman who has known only one man in her whole life to jump over the horse and it will get healed.
This cultural practice has been with them from time and it has proven to them to have efficacy without any empirical or scientific justification.
Uganda’s Ekyogero traditional herbal bath is another prominent culture in Africa. It is a popular bath for newborn babies in many communities in Uganda and it is more common among tribes from central, western, and south-western Uganda.
According to the culture, it makes the child strong and healthy physically. It is also a herbal bath that is used to cleanse and give the baby smooth skin and it is also believed to bring good luck to the body and wade off curses.
This shows the strength and willpower that they have kept in touch with their roots. It is beloved that modern medicines do not have answers to everything, and it was from the application of herbs they also got modern medicine from.
The Wodaabe people of Niger have been called “the vainest people in the world”. Mette Bovin writes that the first thing a Wodaabe man does when he wakes, is the first thing a young man of the Wodaabe does in the morning is look into his small mirror, to check and tidy up his face… he will not even go out among the cows without his morning ritual’.
What is even more unique about this tribe is the Guérewol competition. It is an annual marriage competition that has young men dress up with ornaments and face paint thereafter, they dance and sing.
As they dance and sing, they batt their eyes and show off their dentition to look more attractive. They intend to have one of the young girls of marriageable age fall in love with them and their skills.
Spitting is a sign of reverence and respect among the Maasai people of Kenya and Northern Tanzania. It is also seen as a form of greeting in a more positive light.
Spitting has a lot of significance. If the spit is done on the palms and used to shake someone’s hand, it signifies a friendly greeting.
When done on an individual, especially a baby, it means blessings. Also, when a father spits on his daughter on her wedding day, it means prayers and wishes to have a beautiful home.
A person who does not have a foundation (culture) does not know where he or she is going. It is rather sad that some only value their heritage when it is given to them by another who doesn’t understand it but uses it for exploitation.
It is time Africans got back to their roots and rebuild what has been destroyed. We don’t have to throw away, neglect, or abolish all our customs and traditions because of civilization.
Today, virtually the entire world is returning to its traditional ways or ideas. If countries like China, India, Japan who follow their culture are far away better and doing well now, then Africa can do so too, because I don’t think civilization is here to change us but we can only partake in it.