Before any study is undertaken, before any career is engaged in, before any responsibility is given, society at large and individuals need humanness in their lives. We chose to make up this word “humanness” refer to the quality of life instead of using it to mean mercy. Humanness is that drive compelling a person to behave rightly either for his own sake or or for the sake others.
During the old golden days, simple virtues were upheld to promote humanity in order to create a harmonious living environment. Things like dancing ceremonies, visitations, and sharing of resources equally irrespective of the clique one comes from were among the things people did for the sake of humanity. Just like Chinua Achebe affirms, “A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground,it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”
In traditional society humanness was not a lesson set aside to be learned. Each person lived it, ate it, talked it, walked it,….. We can only regard it as separate now because we do not have it.
What exactly was responsible for the eradication of humanity? Colonialism came in with new faiths. When colonialists went they forgot to carry their new faiths with them. New religions had not yet penetrated deeply into the hearts of new adherents to form a basis for a national life after the collapse of colonialism.
Modern religions had not yet become a national religion capable of providing the people with basic moral capital. Thus it’s not a wide exaggeration to state that many African people now find themselves in moral wilderness and are trying to build states without values.
Without a shred of doubt, in most African societies Modern religions has not been a pillar of morality to the same extent that the traditional religions were. This is of course different from saying that modern religions have not been a champion of justice and probity of life.
In Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s book The River Between, people had started stressing the outward aspects of culture and religions and the humanness was distinctly fading away. In this, as in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, adherents came closer to the point of killing members of opposing faiths, abandoning the humanness had stressed that people are valued for what they are before being assessed on what they can do bit still Africa is very religious.
That’s why Africa remains so religious that in many cases not even the introduction of science and technology has been able to make in- roads into her religious fabric.
As much as life is not static and change is inevitable, let it not appear that the change in the old traditional set up was solely caused by foreign influences. The old order of society was bound to change with time. Change is in some cases a natural phenomenon but this was not a natural change so no sense of proper continuity could be retained. All the same today we are in a cultural dilemma.
Society first, individual last. Self-love wasn’t a concern as compared with today as most were concerned with the happiness of their neighbors more than themselves. That’s what it used to be in the traditional African settings. Giving to the society was voluntary not because others were poor but to uphold humanity.
Today, things have taken a twist. It’s individual first then the society will only come in if its needs correspond with yours. People no longer care about those around them in pretext of “self-love first.” Pictures with “self-love” caption have flooded social media platforms with most people unknowingly appreciating them. As they become indebted to individualism.
It’s rock-like to bring back the olden days and there is nothing that can be done to the current generation. On the other hand, it’s never too late to drill the future.