Ethnocentrism : The African Man And His Near Jettisoned Identity

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

Ethnocentrism : The African Man And His Near Jettisoned Identity

By Elochukwu Nicholas Ohagi A lot of people in other to point out how things should be done, have referred me to how it is being done in America or Europe. The standard for them is exactly how it is done by the white man. That's the ideal for them. This is exactly how Africa started losing it, or should I say failing it. You see children playing, saying these words in Igbo. Ọ ka ndị ọcha si eme ya. They do say it with ecstacy. That's how it is done by white people, kind of gives them the certainty that they are getting it right and better than others. The Whiteman became the standard. A white man that didn't attend University will be prized higher than a first class black man in an Industry in Africa. For them,

the man with white skin will know more. This has been the mindset of many in Africa. A mindset that have eaten deep into the fabrics of our continent. Everything about us as a people have been weighed through the eyes of the white man. Their standard is made our standard. They determine for us what is right or good. And when they tell us that what they thought is good and noble has become suddenly evil, we all will start swinging towards that direction.

The Catholic Church in Anambra once decorated the 'Christ The King' event in a complete Igbo cultural attire. The Thurible was made with a calabash and the coal and incense poured inside it. For those who don't know, thurible, is a vessel used in the Christian liturgy for the burning of aromatic incense strewn on lighted coals. Those carrying this calabash didn't dress like Mass servants. They tied only a wrapper, leaving their chest bare but not without adoring themselves with nzu and omu, as to depict real Igbo cultural identity. This was greatly opposed by many online users. Especially those of them non catholics, and even from some catholics. It sparks lots of controversy. They branded it pagan practice. Some took a swift one on the church saying that they know from the beginning that Catholic Church is not a church, but a pagan group. What will make a people see the incorporation of the

cultural identity of their people into their religious practices as devilish and evil? What made carrying calabash with incense evil, but using same with European Thurible is not perceived as evil? Is the calabash evil? This is the length of distortion that happened to the mind of an African. Where he demonized his own and embraced that of another. Lots of educated Africans, especially those that studied abroad have come home to challenge some of our cultural beliefs. Some said that Bride Price should be abolished, because it makes a woman a mere property. They failed to accept the fact that the culture of their people must be respected. The bride price gives respect to marriage, and tells the man that he should take adequate care of his wife. Bride prize in that life of Africans is symbolic. It is never objectifying the woman in any way.

I will understand them, if these people are attacking only the greed recently attached to bride prize in our society today. But they are not, they are calling for outright jettisoning of bride prize, in the name of Europeanism. Every Culture is unique. Be it Black, White or Asian culture. No culture is superior to one another. The belief or attitude that one's own culture is better than all others is the reason some Africans knowingly or unknowingly belittle their own culture and put that of the Europeans as the ideal. Every culture is seen as a system for human survival. No culture can be judged as evolutionary superior to another and cultural features can only be understood in terms of their role in the complete system. Meaning that African or Igbo culture should not be viewed as lower than that of the Europeans.

Different cultural values and beliefs of people should be respected. African marriage has been with lesser divorce, and suicide has never been their thing. The European belief concerning marriage is that marriage is solely between the man and his wife, with a near zero interference from the family. Our people have embraced this particular belief and regard it as the ideal, thereby jettisoning what marriage is to them. Marriage is not solely between the man and his wife in Africa. We have different understanding of marriage. In an African marriage, the man and the woman still have their relatives as part of their lives. They don't live in isolation of their people. In Africa, the consent of both families and their Ụmụnna are needed, before marriage contract can be sealed. They are totally involved in the preparation and ever after. In Africa, the presence of the Ụmụnna will continue to be felt even in death. Africa can never get it right, if they don't take up their cultural beliefs and stand by it, just like others, instead of jettisoning theirs to embrace other people's culture.

Some, because of their religious understanding have demonized everything African. Palmwine, Kola nut, masquerade has been the highest hit. I have witnessed an Igbankwu ceremony that was carried out with Fanta soft drink. They perceived palmwine as demonic, while some claim it is alcoholic, yet they drink Red Wine. The first Europeans that came to Igbo land saw us marrying more than one wife. We have our food storage system, our farms and lived a peaceful, happy lives. But the Europeans came strongly against us marrying more than one wife. They said it is a sin. Today, marriage has become another thing, and more doors opened. Those that opened more doors to marriage should not in any way tell you what marriage is. Don't forget that even before the coming of the Europeans, you have been marrying.

Africans must make their laws to tally with their culture and way of life. Democracy must be seen through the eyes of the African and not from European lenses. We must understand that political theories of many white Philosophers were done without having Africans in mind. And even at the time of the propagation of their theories, they never believed that you all are humans. There were ongoing debates upon debates asking if a black man can be saved. Like asking if he has a soul or could it be another specie of a chimpanzee. How the Americans or Europeans are doing it must not be the yardstick for us Africans. We can't completely recover what is lost, but we can salvage the little we can. We must start educating our Youngs rightly. Also, bearing in mind that there is a room for assimilation. A culture continues to grow, meaning that it can be updated.

We are Africans, we a people, with our own cultural identity. Elochukwu Ohagi, Philosopher, Teacher And Activist, 2021 NB : Contributions and criticisms are welcomed.

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