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Time Traveling Through African Tradition: A Perspective on Development and Belief Systems

African Tradition

By Obi Trice Emeka

In today’s discourse on Africa’s cultural heritage and its juxtaposition with modernity, it’s crucial to confront uncomfortable truths. As an African myself, I’ve often pondered the dichotomy between our rich traditions and the developmental gap that separates us from the West.

Consider this: Africa claims no traditions related to deity worship or spiritual forces that Europe didn’t possess some 800 years ago. This reflection led me to a startling realization: economically, we’re trailing behind by about 150 years. In essence, Nigeria should be navigating the challenges of the 19th century, akin to what the UK and the USA faced during that era.

But as I delved deeper into our cultural narratives, I encountered what I can only describe as anachronisms. Stories of rivers, stones, trees, and mountains possessing supernatural powers seemed like remnants of a bygone era, reminiscent of the pantheon of Greek gods in the time of Socrates, rather than a society on the cusp of the industrial revolution.

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One particular observation struck me profoundly: the belief that a river would be appeased by offerings of Fanta, a beverage concocted centuries after these beliefs took root, and summoning river goddesses to assembly with the ringing of a bell, an invention far removed from their mythical origins. It dawned on me: we’re not living in the 19th century as I once presumed; we’re suspended in a time warp, where ancient beliefs persist alongside modern realities.

So, what century does one belong to when they believe a river craves Fanta and responds to the tolling of a bell? Certainly not the 21st century. Our challenge lies not only in addressing infrastructural and economic deficiencies but also in reconciling our rich cultural tapestry with the exigencies of contemporary life.

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As we strive for progress, let us not forsake our heritage, but rather, let us reinterpret it in light of our present circumstances. For just as rivers flowed before Fanta and bells tolled, our traditions endure, timeless yet evolving, waiting for us to navigate the currents of change with wisdom and resilience.

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