Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tunnel Vision

I have a valid excuse for being MIA. I've been swamped with work on my thesis. Grad school is no joke. Right now, I'm working on my 'literature review' & hoping I can get it all done by the weekend. I think i'll need Sunday off to myself to think, work-out like a maniac, and blog my life away. So until then, I haven't forgotten y'all, my blogger family. I will stop by your blogs & leave comments once I'm done this phase of the madness.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Western Civilization, Ojuju Calabar, & African Superstitious Beliefs

My Mind is in over-drive & I can't help it. There are so many things I'd like to yarn about but I'll keep this entry short.

First, so how did the 'West' take manage conquer the whole world? I know there have been so many propositions as to why they managed to basically assimilate the entire globe into their fold. But how did they really do it? I was thinking to myself. For example, how can a small country like Portugal, common portugal manage to colonize Brazil, a whole Brazil? It boggles my mind because now Brazilians, Angolans, Cape Verdeans & so many other small pockets of people speak Portuguese.

Or take the more popular example, the U.K. That tiny mass of land. How did they manage to imprint English on nearly the entire world? And they were not even that many back then. As I sit here typing this entry, I wonder what the world would've been like if the West had not conquered the rest. Perhaps what if we were living in an African Paradigm, where Yoruba or Swahili was the more popular global lingua franca. What would civilization look like? I dunno how the West take manage conquer the whole world but this leads me to another matter.

Ojuju Calabar oyoyo oyoyo. I can only speak from a Nigerian viewpoint. I know that things like witchcraft, mammy wata, ogbanje, abiku, jinns, and ritual killings are very real and affect the daily lives of people. But I can't stop wondering why we (sub-Saharan Africans in general, but Nigerians in particular) are so tied to these ancestral beliefs and old world patterns of thought. In a very general sense, it seems to me that progress usually comes with the overthrow of one generation or the passing along of one wind of change. So perhaps the only real development or growth we can expect to see in Naija will happen when we have moved beyond the stage of 'superstitious beliefs' and beyond the era of paying homage to ancestral deities. Again, I will not generalize to all Nigerians on this issue since many people are quite 'progressive' but I bet a bunch of y'all know what I'm on about. Y'all know about that aunty in the village you've been warned about, or how we don't like telling people the day we're traveling so they don't go & plan for you on the highway (or whichever way you plan to travel).

In the end, I won't deny it - I'm caught up in a half-way house. I have been socialized in a western civilization, I speak English, I think in English, I write in English, I catch myself using words like 'uncivilised', 'barbaric' sometimes to describe things that seem...well, quite barbaric to me; such as the killing of twins, maiming of albinos, e.t.c. But these things were are happening in Africa.

And yet, I culturally subscribed to these things by having a strong awareness of their existence in reality. I remember my mom warning me some years ago to be careful about my friend whom she suspected had ogbanje. This suspicion was because of the girl's erratic behaviour. Needless to say, I wasn't ever really friends with that girl anymore. Call me paranoid or whatever, but I didn't feel like joining any night-time flying squad just yet.