The obvious signs are there but we are too blind to see them. We let our minds be shrouded with a justification that we are only evolving and growing. While the actual truth is, we are rapidly losing touch of who we truly are, our origin. We may be evolving, but we do so in the wrong path. Our so called evolvement is highly detrimental to our origin. Metaphorically, we can be likened to a child learning to use her extremities.
Rather for this child, to learn to use her legs to walk and her hands to pick up things, she uses her hands to walk and her legs, to perform the job meant for the hands. She is evolving the wrong way, and so are we. We can’t blame this child for learning wrongly because a child learns vicariously from those around her. We also learnt our ways from those around us. This does not mean we cannot find ways to modify that which we learnt wrongly.
The scales only started to fall off my eyes when I got into an argument with my daughter. She had come home from school, asking for her English name. When I affirmed her doubts about not having one, all hell went loose. The appalling statement she made, still imprinted in my mind like a footprint dried in the sand is, “I hate my name!”
One’s name is a vital part of one’s origin especially an African name. It pinpoints most persons to their root, identifying one’s ancestry. It also reveals the parents’ feeling at the time of their child’s birth because most times, there is usually a deeper meaning. My world was in chaos before giving birth to my daughter. It was not until her birth that things started to fall in place. It seemed like she was the peace sent to me from God. I recall vividly, holding her tiny body in my arms, with tears welling up my eyes, I named her “Udochukwu” which means “The Peace of God”
The argument with my daughter made me realise I had been too blind to see the signs. Udochukwu had changed her body cream from our traditional ‘Oguma’ to some bleaching cream, trying to make her beautiful black, white. She no longer wore our traditional attires or even eat traditional meals. Worst of all, her friends call her ‘Udy’ as a nickname from Udochukwu. With all these signs, I still ignored, creating the excuse that she is only evolving like the rest of our society. Hating her name made the scales fall off my eyes.
The society is just as guilty. Many persons are living under the pretence of civilisation and modernization. We have failed to preserve what we have left of our culture. Emeka now calls himself E-meks, Amaka – Amy, Ubong – Uby, Bankole – Banky. Why aren’t we proud of our names? Why are we trying to make it easier for the other person to pronounce when it only loses its meaning that way?
We can uphold our culture and get the world to appreciate it. We can start with the little things like our names. Telling our African names and explaining it, is a bold step to preserving our origin. Bearing this in mind, I told my daughter the painful story preceding her birth. I explained the meaning of her name and our beautiful cultural heritage. If we don’t teach our children, they won’t teach theirs and the ones after that. Slowly, our culture may go extinct. Loving our skin, our meals, our attires, our stories, our origin is another bold way to preserve what we have left of our root. Speaking our language is another way we can embrace our origin. English may be the universal language but it is not truly ours. Many of us don’t even know our cultural language.
We have truly evolved from using firewood to cook, herbs for medicine, letters for communication, our feet as the only means for transport and many more. Currently, we are still evolving, but we can do so without losing touch of our ancestry.
Chigozie Obioma said in his book – The Orchestra of Minorities, “The civilisation of the fathers was hinged on the preservation of that which already existed, not on the discovery of new things” and he went further to say, “The old fathers looked to the past to move forward. They relied not on what they could see but on what their fathers had seen”.
Embracing our origin would be looking at the past to move forward. It would be hinging our civilisation on the preservation of our African culture.