Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Culture vs Tradition

I have been a bit busy lately, children, housework and all. I hardly get time for myself lately let alone, time to blog. However, I will try to be more organised, come up with a schedule that might give me a bit of time to catch up on my blog.

Well, this post is actually about something that has bugged me for quite some time now. CULTURE vs TRADITION.

Definitions (From Wikepedia)
cul·ture/ˈkəlCHər/Noun: The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

tra·di·tion   /trəˈdɪʃən/ Show Spelled[truh-dish-uhn]
1. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice: a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.

Culture is inherent. It is something that we are born with. It is within us. We cannot run away from our culture. It is like running away from one's own shadow. However, tradition is something that we learn as we grow. Some traditions are passed on while we pass on new traditions as well.

As Africans, we take so much pride in who we are and who we are is what defines us. I strongly believe that we have a very rich culture. The disappointing thing is that some of us seem to confuse who we are and what is passed on to us. I know for some people there is a very thin line between who we are and what is passed on to us. I remember having a discussion with the therapist about why men still pay lobola. This was triggered by someone elses status update on facebook. I know that this is a very controversial and hot topic. It has been for as long as i remember and surprisingly my views on it have not changed. Men paying lobola I would like to believe is what defines where I am from. It is part and parcel of my culture. Please note that i did not say tradition but culture. I remember when I was in high school there was this wave that totems were demonic. For the sake of my non- Zimbabwean readers, totems are what distinguishes us one person form the other, one clan fro the other. An example would be I am a Mashava and my totem is Shava (Eland). This I was born with and cannot run away from it because if decide to run then i risk losing my identity.

Some traditions end up becoming cultures. Our beliefs are a good example of this. Let us look at Christianity for example. This is one tradition that I will always be grateful that it was passed on to me. Through this tradition, I became a changed person, a better person I would like to believe. Through this change, I adopted to a new culture which is Christianity. It then became my new way of life. In school am sure we were all encouraged to develop a culture of reading, loving to read. This reminds of how culture needs to be cultivated for it to reach its full potential. Remember I mentioned that culture is inborn and for it to blossom one need guidance, cherishing and loving, lots and lots of TLC. However, with tradition, one is given a choice. You can either decide to follow certain traditions, create new ones or totally ignore the new and the old traditions. I would like to believe that tradition is equal to trend. Whatever is the latest vibe then becomes a chosen tradition.

For us the latest breed of African Africans, we are given lots of choices, lots of traditions to choose from and hence the thin line between culture and tradition. We end up being confused, not really knowing who we are and what to do with ourselves. In Shona we have the term mu-salad and in South Africa there is the term coconut.Both terms are derogatory considering there reference. A salad is made up of different ingredients and at times you cannot really figure out what the main ingredient is. A coconut is a "confused nut or should i say fruit" There is no clear cut of which is which and if a person is refered to as a mu-salad or a coconut then that person has lost his or her culture and is trying to adopt into a new culture but is not sure if they will fit in. Trying to embrace a new culture is like denying your right to existence, it is like the real you vanishes into thin air and there is a lot of pretence.

For those who did Shona in school remember Ngoni in Ziva Kwawakabva (Remember your roots) by Aaron Chiunduramoyo. Without roots there is no life. Always remember that. More on this later.

Stay blessed!

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