Monday, January 18, 2010

Traditionally yours

Tradition can be fun; especially whenever I visited my maternal grandparents’ home. As a child of their daughter, (Nwadiala), I enjoyed a few perks; courtesy of tradition. My favourite was that anything that fell to the ground, in my presence, belonged to me. I reserved the right to either return it to the owner, or keep it.However, I never mustered the courage to stretch that right to its limit; so I kept the avocado pears that fell off the tree in my presence, but returned the naira notes that I picked off the floor.
Tradition also required that I reserve the right of first sampling of any food cooked, and the throat of any animal slaughtered there. And there were plenty of Xmas, Easter, New Year, New Yam festival goats.

Then my grandfather died; and I was assigned the task of digging the grave during his funeral, some months ago. My uncles and aunts explained that I was traditionally required to do so, by virtue of being his first grandchild from his first daughter.I dug the grave; well, a few traditionally required shovelfuls and proceeded to supervise the three professional grave diggers I was allowed to hire for the task. They charged me N20, 000, three bottles of schnapps, and five packets of cigarettes. The alcohol, according to them, was required to ‘wet’ the hard earth in order to make for easier digging.

Then, my dad informed me that I was traditionally required to present the cow that he had been traditionally required to bring for the funeral. The cow, a big fellow, was in a nasty temper and seemed to have drank some cans of RedBull.To my relief, I could present the raffia twisted twine favoured by shepherds for roping cattle. The rope served to, traditionally; signify that the cow was indeed within the premises, waiting for more competent handlers.

Then, my junior sister informed me that I was traditionally required to procure 15yards of Ankara which had to be draped over her shoulders, as she represented my late mum’s place in the traditional ‘Umuada’ (daughters of the land) dance.

Well, despite that the funeral left my wallet unexpectedly miserably thin; I still think tradition is fun. However, it could do with a few, financially-related, adjustments.

Previously published in NEXT.

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