With the imposition of Western ideals across Africa a lot of our traditional social habits and cultural values have fallen to the way side. I have selected three African social habits and cultural values that were once the norm at some point in our history. Africa Day is coming upon us soon and I would love for this year to have more of a lasting impact on us, more than just a new tailored outfit or some new beads in the cupboard worn as costumes to events.
Would it not be great to celebrate Africa Day from the inside out, celebrating that which we hold dear as a people? We can call it "Human Relations" for the lack of a better term. Now we could celebrate by speaking our indigenous languages throughout the day and teaching one another a phrase or two, but that might be something we should rather take on as a daily task instead of once a year on a cold day in May.
Practicing the following ideals is a fool-proof way for us to create and inform a positive cultural context within our circles of influence. So lets all go forth and share the spirit of the Motherland in these three easy-to-try ways this Africa Day!
1. ukuBingelela / Greeting
So often these days people just don't greet, and even when they do, the greeting is often flat. As Africans, greeting is more than just "hello" for us, it's an acknowledgement of the presence of a whole other person in a space.
Now this might sound like a light observation but it actually has a great impact in how you are received by others. When greeting this Africa Day, be sure to acknowledge the presence of all who are in the room, this does not mean greet everyone by name, but a simple "hola Majita, sanibona boSisi" with your body in the direction of the "greeted" is an easy to do. Also, don't rush to the generic "how are you?" but try "are you well?" or "how is life treating you?" these come across as much more thoughtful because they aren't phrases as cliché as the former.
2. ukuHlonipha / Respect
Some of you are thinking this is unnecessary to add to the list, but it comes in here because there is in fact such a grave vacuum in relation to this ideal. Respect is given, in traditional African values, respect is not awarded but given as a basic. We don't respect people because they deserve good treatment, we respect people because we (the respecter) are respectful people. The ability to be polite and courteous to everyone is an indication of our own personal integrity. Yes, everyone.
3. uBuntu / Compassion
uBuntu is often spoken about in the larger scheme of things. There are so many ways to embody uBuntu in how we live our daily lives and you can practice it in these easy ways on Africa Day:
1. Offer someone a free lift or pay their taxi fare.
2. Take the half loaf of bread in your bread bin and hand it to a homeless person in your area.
3. Give away a book, for no reason.
Basically, doing anything without expecting anything back, counts as uBuntu and will leave you having practiced a value that is very important amongst our people.
May this Africa Day be filled with more than just ostentations for you all, may it impart enough of the spirit of the Motherland to carry us through the workings of this year, until the next.
Happy Africa Day!