This proverb implies that when a child is born, the entire community bears the responsibilities towards the upbringing and rearing of the child. They will ensure that he or she is equipped with the norms, traditions and customs of the land. The name given to the child will be in accordance with the family profession or line of work such as if they were goldsmiths, warriors, hunters or royalty.
The tribal marks below signifies the family edicts and origins of the tribes. In traditional Yoruba societies, every child is born into a patrilineal clan called idile baba in Yoruba language. The clan share clan names (orile), oriki (poetry), taboos (eewo) and facial marks (ila). The facial marks on the child assigns the child full clan membership rights. The children with facial marks are called Okola. Families or individuals lacking the normal features consistent with the tribe are not considered as acquiring full standing as agents in Yoruba society. They would also lack the capacity for meaningful behavior, such as greeting, stating and commanding.
I must now say that these practices have now largely ceased in accordance with Child Rights Law across the land (a ban I totally support).
I sighed heavily though because now in the modern era, a lot of this precepts that gave us ‘true identity’ has now been eroded largely in part by colonialism and the unfortunate transatlantic voyages did untold and irreversible damages.
This brings me to the issue of immigration. Migrating from one part of the globe to another is what the world was built upon. People across centuries have always fled to various parts because of religious intolerance and persecutions, wars and conflicts. Some migrated because of trade in spices and commodities (such as the Silk Road), others fled because of natural phenomenon such as adverse weathers, rising sea levels, earthquakes and so on.
Humans like other species have constantly been on the move. We ‘humans’ are not created to be stagnant, we are ‘moving’ beings. Hence, it will be helpful to bear this in mind over this contentious immigrants debates in the West. Perhaps, we must ask ourselves, what role did our ancestors or (nature) play that has now resulted in having someone of different breed and colour has your neighbour, doctor, accountant or even as a lover!
The crust of my observations is that in light of modernity and enlightenment, we must hold on to the practices and customs that gave us our true meaning as a race, or culture. An example is that here in the west, there is the concept of ‘live and let live‘ – an idiom expressing the ideal of allowing each other to live their lives as each sees fit. However, sometimes this does not ring true in some cultures hence the reason for lack of assimilation and integrations in some communities.
As an African (plus a Brit I must say), I get frustrated when I see some (and I say some in terms of few) African descents not living to the ideals of their proud origin. Frustratingly in the sense, that if we cannot correct or teach them to the norms of what is expected in fear of evading somebody space. This meant that for us as a community we have been rendered powerless in raising our children (and our neighbours children) for fear of retribution.
In drawing to a close, we must seek to respect everybody’s rights (old and young) equally, however that respects also infers correction where it is needed. It is our collective societies that looses out in the end, if we do not correct bad behaviours in our several communities be it in the black, white or Asian communities.
Finally, the best antidote to this looming immigration issues is partly economic developments and good governance in the affected countries. People will rather stay in their own land to be part of the growth story and live their lives in accordance to their beliefs.
Let me know if you have differing thoughts and contributions…