|What determines a person’s true value?|
|Saturday, 02 June 2012 00:00|
Last week I was speaking to a brother who shares my fascination with culture. He lamented the loss of good African values to modernity such as respect. According to him, children of today know nothing about respect. In a way the brother was right when we consider the way some young people of today
relate with elders. Africa had a perking order based on seniority. The lessons on the importance of respecting elders were reinforced in every aspect of life.
Gender also played an important part as women had a subordinate role to men. A woman also had to wait for the man to take the lead.
My mother tells me that she had an uncle who took no exception to staring. He would ask the child staring at him to tell him how many teeth he had. I, however, think that this was an extreme way of teaching the young people to respect their elders.
Also these days we hear more cases of children assaulting or even killing their fathers. There are mothers who are dispossessed of their houses by children in inheritance wrangles.
I, however, think that these undesirable changes should not be looked at in isolation but considered within the changing cultural context. What do I mean by this?
These changes have been happening gradually. In my view there has been slow attrition due to a clash of values.
You find that with education a younger person could be in charge at the work place. These days with increased access to education by females, women are occupying positions of authority that demand that they be respected.
I recall last year when I went to this gathering. They were limited chairs and therefore some people both men and women were sitting on mother earth. My elderly aunt expressed dismay at the women who were sitting on the chairs while the men were on the ground.
The environment we live in has changed and therefore has brought changes in our cultural institutions. What we need to do as to see how best we can make the best of it and remain a people with an identity.
The world we live in listens to people with money. In my view it is what you have rather than who you are that speaks for you. Sometimes in families plans are suspended until this person arrives.
The shift is not without its challenges. Apart from affecting the African perking order it has really brought competition within families or groups. It has also brought in other social ills as people use unorthodox means to get rich so they can earn the respect of the world.
What really determines the true value of a person? Is it who they are or what they have? How do people perceive themselves or are perceived by others in terms of their true value.
It is sad that today the value of a person is more on what he or she has. It is therefore not surprising to see a finely dressed person being afforded the highest seat while the opposite is true for the simple ones.
As a parting shot let me say that while the world concentrates on finery and similar possessions God is a God who looks at the heart. I believe that the heart is where one’s true value lies.