Wearing My Father’s Thoughts About Tradition And Culture Of My People

December 10, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Things Fall Apart

 

By

John Chizoba Vincent

 

 

Growing up, I saw no shrine in my father’s compound. I saw no native doctor or any such fetish in our family compound in Nkporo. But the worst of all was that I didn’t see him in church until his death in 2004. He was never a Christian, Muslim or Pagan but he worshipped the Supreme God above. What I saw him doing sometimes was that whenever one of his children came back to see him at home in Aba, they usually bought him some Seaman Dry Gin. He would open it, pour into a small cup and pour on the wrinkled ground to bless his ancestors’ names and commend their ancestral spirits to bless that son that paid him homage. It was just a libation and that’s all. He broke kola nuts together with his kinsmen in Nkporo and we all saw him blessing his “chi” for given him long life whenever a visitor from Nkporo came to visit him in Aba with a bottle of Schnapps. Then, although we never agreed with each other until his death, I would always sit far from him watching him do all these things. He was full of himself. He believed in the Supreme God above who is “Chineke”, “Obasibinigwe”, he believed in him as the giver of life and his guidance and protector.

 

He was proud of where he came from, Nkporo. I learnt of Nkporo cultures from him before I beheld the land. I could remember he told us that we would be taken to the Agbala for the “Ipu Agbala” so that we would belong to the caste system. Someone like me disagreed with him. I could remember he taught us that a man never forgets his roots. He said the only thing that keeps a man going is knowing where he is coming from and where he would be buried when he dies. Each time I hold Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, I see my father in there. I compare him with Ezeugo and Ezeulu. They have similarities; they share many things in common.

 

I had a father who was passionate about the traditions and cultures of Nkporo people and the Igbos generally. I had a father who could decorate his lips with laughter whenever he talked about the traditions and cultures of Nkporo land. He never went to a church during his time on earth but he had some Jehovah Witnesses that came to our house to minister to him. Later, I came to realise that he was never condemned by these people like other Pentecostal churches do. He was never told to abandon whatever he believed in to follow Jesus Christ but he was told how this Jesus Christ loved him and each time he was told that we always saw his face full of smiles.

 

I had a father who showed us the way of the African traditional religion if not directly but he did that indirectly to me in particular. I met him at an old age, a scar that still hurts me now and would continue to hurt me forever because then, I disliked him because of the many wives he had to himself and the many children he gave birth to and was not able to give them a reasonable life. I disliked him for not giving us the life he ought to have given us. Sorry, if I’m getting you scared. We never agreed with each other until his death. Even that morning when every one of them were wailing and hitting themselves on the ground, a tear never dropped from my eyes. Then, he used to tell us how the gods guided them throughout the Civil War, how they gathered in a cave to hide themselves from the Nigerian Army. He planted a long lasting tradition and culture in my heart. I don’t know of others. I can remember the first time he called me to give his visitors a drink from a bottle of Dry Gin, I can remember how he shouted at me for using the wrong hand to hold the cup and the bottle of the Seaman Schnapps.

 

I remembered it all. I can remember after his death I went to the eldest of my step brothers to ask him of our lineage, our roots. I can remember how he laughed at me because then I never made any research on that. He didn’t tell me that, even the name of our family that I asked him. I ran out of the family house ashamed.

 

I narrated the above tale for you to understand that there is nothing too deadly about these traditions and cultures that our forefathers then practised. African traditional religion and cultures are not deadly. We still need to go back to our roots. Let’s go back to where it all started. There wasn’t war and death like it is now when those traditions and cultures were being practised. The white man’s traditional religion came with all these. They came with a Bible in the right hand and a gun in the left hand to kill us all. Some came with the Quran in their right and a dagger and gun in their left hand.

 

Now we celebrate Halloween and so many things from them. We celebrate their own feelings and emotions together with our tattered self. Those masks they took from us are still used by them, they told us that those masks are deadly but are still used by them. What happened in Wakanda is the true definition of what they have done to African nations. If a son does not ask what killed his father on his journey to the stream, the same thing may kill him on his way to the stream.

 

What happens to the new Yam festival in some villages in Igbo land? Is it also deadly like others? What happens to the masquerade festival we all ran to the village square to watch when we were younger? What happens to the moonlight tales, the sounding of the ikoro? What happens to teaching our children how to greet an elderly man and woman when they meet them on the way? What happens to the breaking of kola nuts among seasoned deities? What is happening to our ancestral homes, my Igbo brothers? What is happening to our language, cultures and traditional religion? Do we allow it to go into extinction? Do we allow that as a nation? Everywhere reeks of white men, yes, everywhere!

 

From Enugwu to Enugu, from Oka, to Awka, we modernised everything for them to penetrate into our land. What is happening to our culture and traditional religion in Igbo land? Those shrines destroyed by these missionaries are not as deadly as the religions they brought to us. We had burnt offerings in the old testament, we had people having their own shrine where they worship the gods they believe in. With research I have carried out recently, 85% of African traditional religion is not as deadly as they termed it, just as theirs which has claimed many innocent people.

 

People are being burnt in churches like chicken daily. People are being slaughtered in mosques every day. What happens to African traditional religion? What happens to Igbo mythology? Why is it not taught in our schools in Nigeria and Africa? Everything was running well then, we had no religious fanatics like we have now. We have no religious kidnappers. Whatever happened to our Igbo traditional religion is the only sorrow holding us down… let’s go back to where it all began. Let’s go back to our chi, the only thing that matters to us as a people, the only thing that hold us together as a nation.

 

What happens to our traditional religion and culture in Igbo land?

 

 

 

 

John Chizoba Vincent

John Chizoba Vincent is a cinematographer, filmmaker, music video director, poet and a writer. A graduate of mass communication, he believes in life and the substances that life is made of. He has three books published to his credit which includes Hard Times, Good Mama, Letter from Home. For boys of tomorrow is his first offering to poetry. He lives in Lagos.

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