The only time an ‘African’ man wields his culture is when it is time to regulate the length of a woman’s skirt, or to decide how quiet she should be at home, or when it’s time to teach children about respect, that age long concept that he feels is so threatened by western education and too much Facebook. This culture, to him, is a fixed and unchanging thing, like the obi in his grandfather’s compound, it is to be revered as a symbol of history and identity, even though his grandfather’s hut has been demolished and a 7-room mansion erected in its place. Culture, he claims, is a thing to be hallowed and preserved, we must fight to keep our ancient ways, raising daughters whose onugbu soup is unrivalled in taste and sons who will not contradict the words of their Fathers.
This African man does not mention culture when it is time to trace pre-colonial life and cultural practices, or when it is time to push for history to return to our schools. He does not think of our culture when he stands in a London museum and watches the display of Nok and Igbo Ukwu arts, nor does he stop to correct the curator who mispronounces and mal-appropriates the story.
No. Culture only comes up when you have an opinion contrary to his own; when you dare to disagree with him especially in public, or worse, you have the audacity to ask him to do his job. It is only in times of transparency and accountability that he suddenly remembers that “what an elder can see sitting down, a child cannot see while standing.” He will be quick to remind you that your knees did not touch the ground when you greeted him that morning, because we all know that the phrase “Ekaaro” does not land until you bow low enough for the elder to appreciate.
God help you if this African man has found his way to government. He will seat over the people as though it was a bag of rice he was trying to protect from hoodlums. Who are you to ask him if he has kept his word? If he has served the people he promised to serve? Who are you to demand for good leadership, or policies that will not stifle your creative start up ideas? You silly worm of a Nigerian youth, lacking culture and respect. How dare you challenge your elders? How do you not know that holding your leaders accountable is a threat to our African culture? He will remind you that he was in government before you were born, and then he will plead with you as his child to embrace sanity less you abhor and disgrace our ancient ways.
Yes, o. You are his child, even though you are 36 years old and have 5 family members you are financially responsible for. You are a child who has no respect and is therefore a threat to our national sovereignty. More so, all the drugs you are smoking have washed off our precious African culture from your brain. See your life! You this uncultured youth demanding for palliative when it has obviously been saved up for you at a time it will be most useful. Yet, you complain. You have the audacity to ask why he (they) have hoarded public resources. Why they have not done their job. Why they cannot find the people who killed innocent citizens. Asking jamb questions like a proper Naija youth scrambling for admission in an underfunded school.
You refused to calm down, so now, this African man with his stomach bloated by greed will teach you the lesson of a lifetime. He will drag you kicking and screaming by the ear and show you that “a child cannot eat with elders except he washes his hands.”
“How?” You ask. Well, just wait. He is coming for your Facebook and Instagram and iPhone. Tell your mother and your father, even their WhatsApp will not be spared. When you no longer have these tools where you gather to talk anyhow, you will remember that challenging your leaders is not an African culture. Our culture is to suffer and smile. After all, like our people say: “Wetin concern agbero with overload?”