One of our unfortunate realities as a people is our penchant to place emphasis – and spend a great deal of the resources we daily complain of not having – on things that are of very little consequence and add no value whatsoever to us besides massaging our ego and giving the impression to all that care to notice that ‘we have arrived’.
This is certainly not the first time you will be reading about this but it is nonetheless an issue that deserves another curious look into. Often times, we bury such talk under the ‘no go area’ realms of culture. But it is important that we question cultures that are clearly not beneficial to us as a people and are not in tandem with current realities. Culture is not rigid and must evolve without necessarily encouraging a drop in our values and appreciation of what is right and wrong, and we are called to make this change in our way of life.
The celebration of death in some parts of the country is almost embarrassing. Someone said recently that when family members are wailing and throwing themselves about at the loss of a loved one, the wailing is not so much about the pain of the loss but because of the problems the late person has left behind for the living;, the first burden being the elaborate funeral. It is not fiction. Families sell choice properties, empty life savings and even take out credit facilities just to bury the dead. Not too many of these funerals end without splitting families with quarrels that revolve around issues that are as flimsy as they are inconsequential. And when the so-called befitting funeral is over, the living return to the sad realities that have been made worse by the senseless extravagance of the funeral.
Closely related to this, are our big weddings parties. So elaborate is the effort we put into forming new homes that the thought of going into one is simply tiring and scary. Not a few people break down health-wise after weddings. And for others, the absence of the resource needed to make such flamboyant shows offs has kept them from stepping up to get married. We find couples who spend much more money on a hall for the wedding reception than they can afford for their house rent. This is besides the many unnecessary expenses on multiple uniforms, ridiculous pre and post wedding programmes and razzmatazz. And to think of the very lengthy process we go through for marriage; the rounds of traditional rites, the church wedding, another one at the registry and finally a thanksgiving.
Speaking of thanksgivings, one concept that is gaining strong ground in recent time is Child Dedication. I agree that every birth is a thing of great joy and should be celebrated, but when such a celebration begins to assume such standards that it now brings pressure to many who ordinarily cannot afford it, it becomes undesirable. Why waste a fortune on such a celebration and then fail to send the very same child to a good nursery school? What is the sense behind denying good food and welfare to your wife and existing children just to celebrate this one new child?
And the list goes on; graduations, promotions, chieftaincy titles, birthdays, and even the release of convicted criminals from jail attract such colourful displays. Key to the perpetuation of this culture of waste is that inordinate desire to show off, even when our economic realities give evidence to the contrary. The cut your cloth according to your size mantra has since lost its meaning around here and, as insignificant as it sounds, this is one of the main reasons why we are where we are as a nation.
Misplaced priorities and a worship of wealth are twin evils exhibited in our elaborate ceremonies which have caged us as a people and are responsible for the erosion of morals, as evidenced by corruption, armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual killings and other such related vice.
The ‘do or die’ approach to life, just so as to have enough resource to throw elaborate parties, ensures not only the perpetuation of crime but of poverty and underdevelopment as well. Imagine if we pay the same attention to our children’s education, or commit similar resources to more worthy causes for both self and societal improvement. Think about this as you begin the new week.
First Published in Daily Times Sunday June 24, 2012