Rebellious and out of place? Well, meet the emerging me. Honestly, these days, to pick up the pen is to unleash the rebel in me. And believe me, I have tried various- several- different containment strategies but none has worked so far. I’ve tried to train it, tame it, suppress it, choke it, drown it, I even put a lid on it but it won’t stay quiet. So I have decided to let it breathe, one word at a time. Now, what’s bugging me recently; traditions! Traditions of men! I’m beginning to hate it. I agree that hate is a strong word but how else do I express an intense dislike for something?
Before I start to sound like a psycho who needs to have her brain checked out, lemme clarify some terms and preach reason. I said “tradition” because that’s what they call it. Some call it culture. Well, I call it a cage! An infringement of our right to express and be more than we are assumed to be; a seemingly rational excuse to abandon the desire to explore new territories and be different; a limitation!
Here is how this trouble found me. I was in a bus awaiting takeoff so I sat quietly playing candy crush saga on my phone and responding to pings when I overheard a conversation behind me. It was about politics and gender roles and a debate on what is proper for a gender and what is not. The argument gradually became fierce and turned into the famous debate on gender roles in 21st century Nigeria. Come and see arguments and motions. 90% of them were highly chauvinistic, lacking intellectual depth and of course, wherever gender roles are misconstrued I can be very unsatisfied. But I kept my opinions to myself and was not going to give it a thought until someone said the provokingly nauseating “That is our culture”. Ni kini? Who born culture sef? The one created by men or the divinely designed?
Pardon me, the African culture is impressive and somewhat fascinating but its excesses are in dire need of revision. An apt interpretation of the core values of the African descent with contemporary relevance is long overdue. (I can imagine some African studies scholars critiquing and rolling their eyes at me right now but ko mata). Not all aspect of this “tradition” is worth our acknowledgement, time or obeisance.
Remember we once had a tradition that considered multiple births an abomination and an interference in the cosmic order which was restored via the slaughtering of the newborns. Remember the once prominent tradition of kitchen-schooling the girl child because giving her access Western education was a waste of time and money. Remember “our” tradition that condemned men to their death with the notion of making them escorts of a dead king on his journey to the world beyond- I laugh SMH (read a summary of Prof Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman).
I’ve had enough of what that tradition dictates and this is my resolve. I will never stifle my creativity to appease something as abstract as a tradition. It has no legs, no hands; it is neither a man nor a thing. I won’t withdraw from pursuing my passion because some unwritten rule passed down from men who walked barefooted, made human sacrifices and thought the sky was heaven forbids me to. I won’t trade my freedom to LIVE life to the fullest to appease the doctrines developed by men who sold their own people for “treasures” as stupid as mirrors (no offense to the ancestors).
However, I’m not flushing all of tradition down the sewer. I’m only making a case for amendment and defining the extent with which I can run with its dictates henceforth. I gladly embrace the order that promotes the core values of human civilization; equality, freedom, justice, rule of law… and refuse anything less. Those “traditions” are suffocating, so I set myself free. Free to be me with no encumbrances. So, if I ever place a limit on myself, it will never be for ‘tradition’s sake’. It will be because I chose to.