Standing on unverified existing protocols: time to redefine our reality

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existing protocols

A young mother usually cuts away fish’s head and tail before frying the remaining length, until her daughter questioned if the head and tail were poisonous. The young mother couldn’t answer because she learnt without questioning from her mother, who also learnt from hers till the fourth ancestor. The great-grandma later explained that their olden-day frying-pan were small, and could not contain the whole length of the fish. So they cut off fish’s head and tail so it can fit into their olden-day frying-pan, which is far smaller than modern frying pans.[1] Without questioning existing protocols and traditions, people may never know the futility or purpose of many dogmatic practices in the society.


Cultures are people’s way of adapting to and managing their environment, which is transmitted from one generation to another. Elements of culture include language, food, clothes, occupations, ceremonies, music, thoughts and modes of interactions. These are unique elements that distinguish between one people and the other. Though cultures interact and borrow from one another, enduring cultures retain the core values that distinguish them from the rest. Without retaining their core values about human relationship and relationship with material resources, they lose their identity and purpose.


Before colonial invasion, African societies were known for a relational communalism, which extends beyond one’s locality.[2] This communalism was guided through traditional institutions by values of sincerity, moderation, collaborative productivity and social responsibility. The sense of family and community was so strong that people work together for security, productivity, education and life. Though the education system at the time was informal, it was practical and bearing on real life people. The system of social organization at the time was not very advanced, yet, it was effective for common good.


Instead of improving on the social values for common good, the colonial invasion disordered the Africans social organization and core-values. The different independent communities and kingdoms were brutally and indiscriminately merged under heavily militarized government structures and alien constitutions. The militarized government structures are colonially empowered to confiscate[3][4][5] and auction ethnic people’s land and resources to highest bidders. Thus, they deny the people of their basic means of livelihood and print money for people to struggle before earning a living.


The African was compelled to enter into the money economy… From the condition of relative peace and reasonable certainty to satisfy the basic necessities of life, the African was suddenly plunged into poverty. There was no longer the reasonable certainty to meet the basic necessities of life unless money was available. Having been thus rendered poor by the stroke of the pen backed by the use of armed force, the African was compelled to find money to assure not only individual survival but also to pay tax for owning a hut.[6]


This sudden change eroded the communal outlook and responsibility of individuals from different ethnic communities and kingdoms. The formal education moved from experiencing real processes of production to cramming and recounting imported items and trends.[7] Hence, everyone is desperately struggling against everybody to get the western-defined money for individual survival. You fight to get right of way, life or fair-hearing, fight to earn money, even fight to pay money. The persons who shout, fight, deceive or outsmart others, especially for the government, receives survival benefits.


Unfortunately, the younger generation meet and absorb this desperate situations of individualistic survival as existing protocols of African reality. They have not encountered better situations in Africa, where collaboration leads to harmonious productivity, coexistence and social justice. Instead, they embrace the media hype of few ‘favoured’ capitalists and entertainers as models for their individualistic pursuit of survival. Adjusting to the current Western definition of Africa, the older folks abandon/deny their founding communal values ‘as irrational’.[8] Today, many Africans even will fight their brothers who disagree with the western-imposed African ‘reality’.[9]


Now, it appears that our different cultures have been twisted, and our African reality redefined by the colonialists. They tell us which food to eat, language to speak, governance, knowledge, wears and sexual orientation to adopt. We now adopt the masks of conformism for their social experiments, even when we know they are not right.


Standing on existing protocols – work smart for the lion share, let others work hard for crumbs.

Standing on existing protocols – get a job, let others do the production.

Standing on existing protocols – compete individually and die, instead of collaborate and live together.

Standing on existing protocols – shout first and be right, stay quiet and be overshadowed.


Though these attributes have flooded our society, they are not the true realities of Africa. To redefine the African reality, the different communities and kingdoms will re-discover and re-emphasize their values. They will educate their natives for modern productivity and retrieve access to their resources for production of goods and services.

[1] Story from a reflection by Angelbert Chikere about mass-mindedness in the teaching of P. Josef Kentenich. 2010

[2] Pieter H. Coetzee, “Morality in African thoughts” in African Philosophy Reader (2nd Edition) edited by P. H. Coetzee and A. P. J. Roux (New York: Routledge, 2003) p.324

[3] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2

[4] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[5] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[6] Mogobe B. Ramose, “The struggle for reason in African” in African Philosophy Reader, ibid. p.2

[7] Ogban Ogban-Iyam, Re-Inventing Nigeria through Pre-colonial Traditions In Issues in contemporary political economy of Nigeria.edited by Hassan A. Saliu. (Ilorin: T.A. Olayeri press, 1999). P.73

[8] Cf. Ibid. p4

[9] Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa (Abuja: Panaf, 2009 edition) p.25