While we bask in the glory and splendor of the present, it is easy to forget about the awe and aesthetic beauty of the past. Let us flash back to the time before Africa and particularly Kenya was ‘civilised’. African lifestyle was original and their culture was original and uncorrupted. Until westernization happened.
According to Gabriel E. Idang in his paper, African Culture and Values, African culture had a moral code that forbade doing harm to a relative, a kinsman, an in-law, a foreigner and stranger. This code was upheld across African communities and everyone lived mindful of the other. This code ensured stability of institutions at all levels. Life had a flow that was rarely or never interrupted. People traded peacefully despite their language barrier and lack of a common currency. You could tell they had a silent language that everyone understood.
What then happened? Is it greed? Things like corruption, tribalism, homicide, theft, enmity and tribal intolerance were never heard in Africa, decades ago. How then do these things characterize African societies today? In the recent corruption perception index African nations are ranked as most corrupt. Consequently, in the poverty index they also rank as the poorest continent.
Moral discipline is the shackle and glue that held our communities together. We no longer witness this. Murder, corruption, enmity and intolerance characterize African societies today. Police brutality among many other vices is on the rise. Family homicides are the new breaking news, nowadays. I can rightfully say that we are headed towards a point where our news will be rated PG 18 due to the content.
Has civilization that the whites brought to Africa done more bad than good in our African communities? Have we forgotten our roots? How are entrenching our fundamental values and legacies. Wishing well to your brother is an African value we need to retain and pass on to future generations. This is our value, our worth as Africans.
Are you a government official? If yes, let integrity and prudence be what drives you in your service to your fellow countrymen. Are you a local authority? Use your authority for the good of the people. Are a religious leader? D not cheat or swindle money from your congregation. Are you an African, based anywhere in the world? Pass on African moral legacy by focusing on the common good of fellow Africans. That’s the legacy our ancestors left us. That is the African identity. And always remember these words by Bose Ogulu- “You were African before you were anything else.”
By Caroline Mutuku