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Cultural erosion depletes family cohesion

John Mbiti’s popular maxim “I am because we are, we are therefore I am” – which is an interpretation of Ubuntu – speaks to what is happening in Zimbabwe right now.
Ubuntu is a worldview, a way of life shared by most Bantu speaking people, mostly Africans living south of Sahara.
It underscores the role of relatedness and dependence as a people, in this case, as a family.
Taking these African ethics into consideration – one wonders why Zimbabweans would let go of their traditions – which bind communities and extended family units.
The many traditions and traditional gatherings that have long existed require the presence of the different parts of the family – extended and community members included. They allow for people to meet for a common purpose, demand for mutual respect, give everyone different roles to carry out no matter how young or distant the relationship may be.
This is what people are letting go of when they choose to ignore culture for modernity.
Africans have been made to believe that their culture is evil and barbaric. Some have readily accepted this without a fight.
For example, the culture of lobola, which is meant to strengthen family ties while requiring men to show that they are capable of taking care of their family – is slowly dying.
In the past, hunters would bring meat and animal skins to show their in-laws how they would take care of their family. Farmers would pay lobola with grain and cattle, and blacksmiths with hoes and such other equipment.
The poor would give their labour as a sign of dedication and exhibition of how, despite being poor, they would work hard to be providers.
Some are beginning to question the practice as it is now being used to extort wealth. During lobola ceremonies, even distant relatives are present to celebrate, and play different roles, thus bringing in a sense of interdependence.
Yes, technology brings a sense of connection but in actual fact it has people divorced from their surroundings and what is important – real personal connections at family and community levels.
Yes, culture is dynamic, and to deny that some practices are barbaric would be a lie. It is, however, important to safeguard those that are beautiful, trace their history and improve on the practices.
As a result of people being told that their culture is barbaric, some have found fashion in ignorance. It is not cute not knowing or valuing where one comes from.
Those you are following in their cultures have followed certain traditions for centuries. By blindly following them, one will be in a way saying they are an inferior people and those they follow are superior.
Self-hate will lead to a generation where the simplest of cultures will be forgotten and individualism will rule the roost. Individualism which came with modernity and adoption of Western cultures has also brought mental health issues that are ravaging African society.
Without the support of extended family, many suffer alone or in silence. Chara chimwe hachitswanyi inda. People should revisit their cultures for a more coherent and healthier society. Nhau/Indaba

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