In a previous installment, we traced through the biblical channels of how some of our cultures had a direct link to God. His spoken instructions to mankind helped to shape a number of cultural practices, some of which would not make sense to people looking from outside of that religious sphere.
sundayword BY PROSPER TINGINI
Consequently, some cultures and practices which had stood the test of time came under attack and were at times annihilated by other superimposing political or religious cultures. In such cases, there tended to be suppression of hitherto strong cultural practices which were meant to serve particular religious objectives. Apart from those that had a divine significance, other practices were meant to maintain law and order, to maintain morality among humans and to uphold the lines of authority across the social fabrics of human living. An absence of an organised culture creates chaos, confusion, disintegration and eventually the extinction of any group of people and its culture. Societies that have lost their cultural identity are transformed into breeding grounds for moral decay.
Our forefathers grew up in a society that respected the value and role of parents. During that time, the authority of the parent was unquestionable. All children were taught to bow down and even to kneel down to show respect and submission to elders. The instructions of the elders were the children’s commands. Just as is practised in the armies, all orders from parents were obeyed at any cost and without question. Things have changed nowadays and this culture is being eroded. The children no longer give much honour and respect to elders like it was in the past. The children have now “modernised”. What has brought about this modernisation, or the demon of it, which has led to the loss of our traditional values of respect and honour for elders or parents?
Our valued traditions have been thrown away into the dust-bins and labelled as the “old testament” and replaced by the “new testament” practices which now teach our children to address their fathers by their first names. This was taboo in our culture. It was an abomination, tantamount to addressing the Lord Jesus Christ by the first name, Emmanuel. Tradition had its roots anchored on our almighty God. Most of our culture was aligned to the commandments of God. In Exodus 20: 12, the Lord instructed us: “Honour your father and mother so that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you”. This is what was adhered to by our forefathers, the old testament generations. It was the backbone of all family structures.
There is growing moral decadence across the whole spectrum of society. Men and women are now freely engaging in sex before marriage. Virginity has lost its treasured value. Love for one another and for our neighbours has seriously been compromised by individual mentalities. Communities that used to share responsibilities for one another have disintegrated to a large extent, as has co-operative co-existence between families, whether related or not. A tsunami has engulfed our African culture.
Some people might be wondering how people in our part of Africa came into contact with God. It is a historical fact that most of the different tribes and customs migrated from the northern regions of Africa and even from beyond. Our customs were linked to the biblical Noah and Abraham if we look at such traditions like, the methods of slaughtering animals for food (to drain out blood) and other practices like circumcision (covenant between God and mankind). We also shared other religious practices like offerings, days of rest and many more. There are also factual recorded historical events of thriving ancient black African kingdoms north of the Equator. One such recorded kingdom is that of the Kingdom of Kush which was situated at the confluence of the Blue Nile, White Nile, and River Athara in what is now the Republic of Sudan. This black African kingdom prospered for more than 1 000 years between 1070BC to AD350. Biblical records (Genesis 10: 6) indicate that the son of Noah, called Ham, produced male offsprings by the names Cush (Kush), Egypt (Mizraim), Put and Canaan. Geographically, these names now bear names of countries of Sudan (Cush), Egypt and Israel (Canaan). These countries are close to each other in Africa and stretch into the present day Middle East. It would not be wrong to conclude that the African people are also directly linked to biblical Noah, Abraham and Jacob since there is also the mention of someone named Cush who is a Benjaminite (Psalm 7:1). Those people who feel inferior at being black Africans should in fact feel proud of themselves and of their rich and divine inspired ancestry.
We had a close communication with God in the ancient times and we lived by the commandments and instructions of the Lord our God, the Almighty. While we should thank Christianity for introducing us to Jesus Christ and a new religion, “the new testament”, we should remain connected to our old cultures and traditions. Even the Bible itself is composed of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The two are linked to one another. Christianity is a religion that started about 2 000 years ago after the death of Christ, also known as Jesus of Nazareth, named Emmanuel in the scriptures. Whatever different teachings the Christian preachers may tell us, it is important to listen to the actual spoken words of Jesus Christ himself. In the book of Matthew 5: 17-19, He spoke; “Think not that I have come to abolish the laws and the prophets. I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches them so, shall be called least in the kingdom of Heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven”.
Some Christian preachers who came after Jesus’ death then decided to remove the four nots from His spoken words.
While Jesus Christ was directing us to stick to our good old God-inspired cultures, these preaches are busy directing us in the opposite direction.
Many times Jesus Christ was asked the same question by different people (Matthew 19: 16-20; Mark 10: 17-20 and Luke 18: 18-21); “Good Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?” His answers were always the same, saying, “Follow the commandments of God”, to which the people further asked, “Which?” Each and every time, Christ directed them to God’s instructions and commandments to our forefathers as encompassed in the old testament. These were an integral part of our traditions, even in African culture. Let’s have an unbroken link between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Our culture is a religion which links us to God.
Prosper Tingini compiled a book titled God’s Constitution for Mankind – The Laws and Commandments. His contact details are 0771 260 195 or email: email@example.com.