A boy noticed that every time he sees his mother fry fish in a pan his mother used to cut off the head and the tail. He then asked his mother why does she do that all the time she prepares fish. His mother’s response was that she learned how to prepare a fish like that from her mother, and she never asked why they prepared it that way. The boy then asked his grandmother and astonishingly his grandmother said she used to prepare the fish like that because back in the old days they didn’t have access to big frying pans, so they chopped the head and the tail off so that the fish can fit in the pan.
Using this story as an example I want to share my frustrations about traditions. I find myself being the boy in the story on a regular basis when I have conversations with elders in my family. I am a very curious person and I disregard things which people try to force on me while they are unable to explain the roots of the tradition they want me to practice.
Often elders are unable to explain why we do things, like in the story the boy’s mother was unable to explain why she chops the head and the tail off, only to find out the tradition was based on convenience. I am seriously against African traditions because most of them cannot be explained. We are already a “westernized society” so why do we try and suggest that a certain outfit shows respect in serious events, for example men in serious events need to wear jackets as a sign of respect and women wear long dresses. Traditional African clothing doesn’t consist of clothing. It consists of skins. Our clothing is Western European culture so can someone explain to me how does a jacket or a dress show respect ? Its a piece of clothing for goodness sake.
I am African so I will talk about African traditions. We believe in many different things and we want to enforce our beliefs onto others without leaving room for them to belief in what they choose. We also feel offended when people go against “our traditions”
We have the responsibility to ask why things are being done the way they are being done because when we skip a generation without asking we are going to end up teaching things which we do not understand ourselves, which is what is happening now… frustrated boys and girls who have simple questions but the answers they receive are”it is our tradition.”
If the mother had asked her mother she would have understood that the preparation method her mother used was based on convenience, and she would have amended the method to what she prefers because she has options today. Her mothers method was not supposed to be a “tradition”… luckily the boy’s grandmother was still alive, because if she wasn’t his mother was going to force a “misguided tradition” on him and he would also pass it down because it would have grown into a tradition.
If elders are going to fail to explain why we do things with a better explanation than “it is our tradition” then I rather be the disrespectful rebel.
Some African traditions are just superstitions, people fear the unknown, people are paranoid and people believe in nonsense which restricts the ability to be open minded.
“To go back to tradition is the first step forward ” – African Proverb